Spray safety queried

Just one sign was left after the council’s weeding contractor packed up and left.

A SOUTH FREMANTLE resident says Fremantle council hasn’t been following guidelines when applying herbicides at its park and could be exposing residents and animals to toxic chemicals.

And when the Herald asked the council about its weed-spraying practices, it kind of fluffed the answer.

Phil Jenkins said when he went to South Beach last week, he noticed “little white mounds of bubbles all over the grass”, and while he didn’t spot any signs, knew it meant weed spraying.

“I then had a sauna and noticed the contractor loading up his machinery which was doing the spraying,” Mr Jenkins said.

“In this time there were many people barefoot on the grass, sitting and practising yoga and dogs running around.

“I found it funny that he was wearing protective clothing but the people on the grass were somehow not affected by what was toxic to him.

“His explanation was that there are chemicals everywhere nowadays anyway.”

Mr Jenkins said he did spot two signs, but the contractor took one away when he left – leaving a single sign to alert beach-goers that the area had been sprayed.

“[It was] on the far side of the grass and not in a position to warn people before they walked on the grass.

“Many people around were not happy with this and questioning how this could happen with a progressive council such as Fremantle.”

The council’s parks and lanscapes manager Ryan Abbott told the Herald the herbicide Barricade was used.

“Barricade has an exemption from poison scheduling, and is classified as ‘not a hazardous substance or mixture’ under the globally harmonised system for the classification and labelling of chemicals,” Mr Abbott said.

“As such, there is no requirement for the use of [personal protective equipment] during use.”

But the information quoted by Mr Abbott refers to when manufacturing the product, while the label specifically says operators should use “cotton overalls buttoned to the neck and wrist (or equivalent clothing)” and “elbow-length chemical resistant gloves”.

The label also says, with capital letters: “DO NOT allow public entry into treated areas until the spray has dried.”

Mr Abbott says the City moved to Barricade as a non-hazardous product to prevent the emergence of weeds as part of its turf management program.

 “This has proved highly effective and has significantly reduced the requirement for using selective herbicides following weed germination,” he said. 

“This is part of the City’s program of integrated weed management practices that have made us less reliant on scheduled poisons. Other measures we use include mechanical removal, steam weeding and weed mapping.”


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