Natural England
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Fresh safety warning issued over pesticide storage

A fresh warning has been issued to store pesticides safely, after a West Norfolk pest controller was prosecuted for keeping them in an unlocked garden shed.

Natural England and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued the joint alert after Andrew Bray, who carries out rabbit and fox control on farms across West Norfolk, was fined £1,000 over two pesticide offences.

Workers who use pesticides are now being warned they risk being prosecuted if they fail to follow the law for storing them safely.

Norfolk police officers found nine pesticide containers of aluminium phosphide when they searched Mr Bray’s home in Heacham, where he lived with his young son, on 9 January 2012. Aluminium phosphide is a moisture-activated gassing compound, which produces a very toxic gas that can be deadly.

Eight of the containers held Luxan Talunex, which is no longer authorised for storage and use in the UK, and the other one held Rentokil Phostoxin. The pesticides had not been stored in a metal or fire-resistant cabinet and there was no warning sign on the unlocked shed.

Some of the containers had been opened and resealed after use – a practice which could have led to the release of a dangerous gas if they had come into contact with water. The labels on many of the containers were also decayed and difficult to read.

Natural England’s Wildlife Management Senior Specialist, Dr Ed Blane, commented: “This case underlines the importance of correctly storing fumigant pesticides and the need to dispose of products which have lost their approval. People have died as a result of unsafe storage and use of fumigant products. Anyone who uses or stores these products must be properly trained. There is no excuse for storing such toxic pesticides in the manner found in this case. Products which are no longer approved should be correctly disposed of.”

HSE served an enforcement notice on Mr Bray requiring the disposal of eight containers of Luxan Talunex and one of Rentokil Phostoxin, following the police search of his property.

Elaine Close, from the Chemicals Regulation Directorate at HSE, added: “Pesticides are needed to control pests and weeds, but they can also be highly dangerous to people and the environment if used or stored incorrectly. That is why there are strict controls in place over their sale, storage and use. It is up to everyone who is involved with pesticides to ensure that they are used safely and effectively, and that they are stored correctly. Some products, like aluminium phosphide, require extra special measures to ensure they are stored safely and, once opened, the content of the container should be used up and never resealed or kept for future use. It is unacceptable for these potentially-deadly pesticides to be stored in an unlocked garden shed without a warning sign. They should be locked away safely in a suitable cabinet. Otherwise, lives could be put at risk.”

Notes to Editors:

For further information contact: Melissa Gill on 0300 060 2983 / Melissa.gill@naturalengland.org.uk. Out of hours call 07970 098005.  For more information about Natural England, please visit: www.naturalengland.org.uk

Charges:

Andrew Bray, formerly of Meadow Road in Heacham, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Plant Protection Products (Basic Conditions) Regulations 1997 at Kings Lynn Magistrates Court on Tuesday 16 April. He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15.

About Natural England:

Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

  •  We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.

  • We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and advising widely on their conservation.

  • We run Environmental Stewardship and other green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.

  • We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.

  • We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.

About HSE:

The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

Information on working safely with pesticides is available at www.hse.gov.uk/pesticides.

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