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A 42-year-old market gardener from the northern Perth suburb of Pearsall pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court on 20 October 2014 to causing pollution contrary to sections 49(3) and 99Q(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act (1986).

On 25 April 2012, the market gardener caused pollution by contaminating the air with a pesticide, metham sodium, which was emitted from his market garden in East Road, Pearsall.

The Court found the pollution occurred when the market gardener re-entered the area on his tractor the day after he had applied the fumigant.

The standard procedure for using metham sodium is to apply it into the soil and not disturb the area for 48 hours after application.

The Department of Environment Regulation’s (DER) Director General Jason Banks said the gases drifted across the boundary of the property and adversely impacted on people in neighbouring properties.

“Nearby residents reported eye and nose irritations. This led to watering eyes and emergency services were required to attend,” Mr Banks said.

During sentencing, Magistrate Randazzo stated the offending was at the lower end of the spectrum but was not a low level of seriousness.

The Magistrate imposed a fine of $15,000 and ordered that costs of $900 be paid.

Mr Banks added the case demonstrated the importance of adherence to the requirements on pesticide labels and the safety data sheet information for all chemicals.

“In the case of breaches, DER will investigate and hold offenders to account — the improper application and use of chemicals can have serious impacts on human health and the environment,” he said.

Members of the public with information about a pollution incident are asked to contact the Department’s 24-hour pollution watch hotline on 1300 784 782.

Media contact                                  Liz Drew                                08 6467 5151

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