Videos of wild bird kill in Greenbank, June 2012.

June 2012, Magpies poisoned in Greenbank

Click on the title to see the video.

My neighbour, who has to live with one of these ‘intensive agriculture’ igloo farms less than ten metres from his home, complained to me that the farms were operating noisy machinery between 10 PM and 1 AM for three consecutive weeknights.  On the fourth day, a number of the resident magpies suddenly fell to the ground, writhing in agony and bleeding from every orifice.  He called the neighbours, the RSPCA, and the local media, and this film was the result.

The film shows a group of local magpies slowly dying.  In all, around 8 birds died in this one incident.  Tests by Biosecurity Queensland confirmed that they had been paralysed after exposure to the neurotoxin CHLORPYRIFOS.   This is what happens when intensive agriculture is allowed to be set up in rural residential neighborhoods without proper buffer zones.  Thankyou to Warrior Films.

Two days later

Again, click on this title to see the video.

A followup from Warrior Films, many thanks for all your hard work.

Queensland State Government guidelines specify a buffer zone between agricultural activities and neighbouring homes.

These are to be 40 metres if a vegetated buffer has been planted, 300 metres across open country.

Look how close these intensive agriculture structures are placed to this family’s house!

Less than 10 metres.

This is not acceptable. Ordinary everyday farming practices – involving agricultural chemicals – are not meant to be carried out right next to where families live.  Even the manufacturer’s warnings state that protective clothing must be worn and that this organophosphate insecticide should not be used near humans or pets.  These people don’t give a damn about their neighbours, or the environment, or, for that matter, their workers, who are not provided with adequate washing and toilet facilities (they use the neighbours’ fenceline), and have been seen operating spray rigs with no protective gear.

Who will hold these chemical cowboys to account?

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4 responses to “Videos of wild bird kill in Greenbank, June 2012.

  1. The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has completed tests on the farm accused in this video of poisoning birds with agricultural chemicals. The Department detected no dangerous levels of the specific chemical implicated in these bird deaths, nor any similar pesticides (as was reported in the regional newspaper, Jimboomba Times, on 15 August). There are many alternative sources for these chemicals and a scientific investigation has now confirmed that the farm is not the source.

    In light of these results, we ask the “GreenbankCares” group to add an apology and a retraction to this comment stream.

    (Added by Growcom – the industry group representing Queensland’s fruit and vegetable growers http://www.growcom.com.au).

    • No, Mr Livingstone, these tests are meaningless, as you well know.
      Your attempts to spread misinformation are the very reason this blog has been launched. We live here, you do not, and we will not be silenced.
      The truth is still the truth, and you need to start enforcing the guidelines your organisation helped develop years ago.
      See below for our responses to the JT’s reporting of these ‘test results’ last week.

      1. TEST RESULTS ARE MEANINGLESS (Published in JT Aug 22, 2012)
      People could be forgiven for believing that the residents of Greenbank were misguided in suggesting chemical spraydrift and runoff from an intensive agriculture farm in Harvest Road caused recent bird deaths. But a little examination of the circumstances of the testing reveals a different story.
      Cr Laurie Smith informed me by email that Biosecurity Qld took soil and water samples in Harvest Road on July 27, 2012. The problem is, this latest bird kill occurred 5-6 weeks prior to the samples being taken. This is clear, as the JT reported that these bird deaths occurred in the week prior to release of the June 20 edition.
      Over that time, Harvest Road residents witnessed the farm in question doing rather a lot of soil watering, as well a number of trucks coming and going in what appears to have been an attempt to replace the existing topsoil with clean fill. Piles of plastics and other wastes that have littered the neighbour’s fenceline for months were also suddenly removed. In other words, the testing was done, but only after the farm had been given six weeks to clean the place up first, which makes the test results absolutely meaningless.
      The farmers’ advocates and Growcom have tried to make this a debate about one particular incident, and then manipulated the debate and the testing period in order to discredit residents. But the fact remains that these farms were erected too close to existing homes, in contravention of State Government guidelines regarding buffer zones, and two successive councils have refused to enforce these guidelines, or develop any alternative guidelines of their own. Despite direct involvement in drafting the State guidelines, Growcom has consistently refused to address this elephant in the room.
      Residents want proper action on this issue, and will continue to lobby until it is taken.

      Liz Hall-Downs

      2.
      According to the Material Data Safety Sheet for Chlorpyrofos, the withholding period between spray being applied and harvesting is 5 days for cucumbers. The maximum withholding period is for stock feed that has been sprayed is 28 days). These times allow for the chemical to break down and dissipate. The fact that the chemical may be safe after these withholding times does not diminish from the fact that these chemicals are dangerous when sprayed, and they pose risks for some time afterwards.
      At Harvest Road, spraying activities were observed on 10th to 14th June 2012. Birds died 14th to 17th of June 2012. EHP went on site and took samples on 27th July 2012, more than 42 days after the spraying activities were observed. In this case, “Absence of proof is not proof of absence.” (William Cowper).
      So one may well ask “What is the point of conducting testing 6 weeks after the event?” EHP’s actions in this case are best described in the words of Thomas Sowell, “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing”.
      The following quote from EHP appears to me to be weasel words; “EHP tested for 39 organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides including chlorpyrofos, which were all well below safe levels”. This is far from an emphatic statement that no dangerous chemicals were found, and in fact implies very clearly that something was found, albeit at “safe levels” at that time. We don’t know what the levels were before this time.
      The fact that any agricultural chemical was found at all on a property only 10 metres from a neighbouring residence supports the argument that intensive agriculture enterprises should not be located in the middle of a residential estate. The key point is that Logan City Council and State Government need to comply with State Planning Policy and the minimum requirements to “protect community health and safety”. The guidelines already exist, it is time they were implemented; 300 metres between crops being sprayed and people’s home’s, or a 40 metre vegetated buffer zone.
      David Hogan

      3. As for an apology, WE would expect to be the recipients of an apology from Growcom for 1) Misrepresenting our views in the press, 2) muddying the waters with tangential arguments, 3) Refusing to abide by their own charter, 4) continuing to pointedly refuse to even broach the subject of ‘buffer zones’, the guidelines for which which they themselves were instrumental in formulating back in the mid 90’s.
      Kim Downs

  2. The Growcom CEO responded to this on 23/8/12 – in fact posted the same response in several different places. As we try not to repeat posts, preferring to properly index them, you can see his response, and ours, under the Category, ‘Growcom Correspondence’.

  3. THREE YEARS IN A ROW, AT AROUND THIS TIME, MASS DIEOFFS OF LOCAL MAGPIES HAS OCCURRED CLOSE TO THIS ONE PARTICULAR FARM. DESPITE ATTEMPTS BY GROWCOM AND CR PIDGEON (AKA ‘MR GOOSE’) TO MUDDY THE WATERS AND BLAME THE RESIDENTS, THERE HAVE BEEN ENOUGH WELL-DOCUMENTED INCIDENTS LIKE THIS N THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH OF THE FARM IN QUESTION SPRAYING INSIDE THEIR IGLOOS FOR US TO BE PRETTY DARN CERTAIN WHAT IS CAUSING THIS. AND IT’S NOT THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE. IT’S THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIVE HERE AND ARE ONLY CONCERNED WITH MAKING MONEY AT THE EXPENSE OF RESIDENT’S AMENITY AND PROPERTY VALUES.

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