Crop-Dusting Plane Caused Chaos in Guichon

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It sprayed pesticides killing more than 50 calves and other animals. The pilot was arrested.

More than 50 fumigated calves died due to the “incident.”

It is not a scene set up or a campaign against anybody. It only tries to show the danger of systematic spraying of pesticides from airplanes. This incident took place on April 9, 2009 in the surrounding area of Guichon, Paysandu, Uruguay. This is the news article of La República newspaper:

“It spread pesticide killing more than 50 calves and other animals”. Luis Ovidio Vega | PAYSANDU.

The city of Guichon is on alert and fears the worst. The pilot from crop-dusting plane was declaring at the Justice of the Peace, and it is believed that legal proceedings will continue at Paysandu Court.

The incident took place in the city of Guichon, 110 kilometers to the East of the Department’s capital city. In addition to cattle, hundreds of fish, ophidian, pigeons, Southern Lapwings, and all kind of birds were killed. It is believed that all water supplied from Uruguayan water treatment plants (UPA) may be polluted. Last Thursday afternoon, an aviation company engaged in this type of jobs, had an accident involving the breakdown of one of its hosepipes during a pesticide-spraying flight, as a result of which it began to spread pesticide (Endosulfan) over a field belonging to the Liga del Trabajo del Guichon where the experience called Hotel de Terneros (800) is taking place, a unique event in the country meant to face the water crisis.

According to primary estimates, 50 calves weighing over 250 kg died during a single day after having grazed contaminated pasture in a standard facility. A vet’s diagnosis is unquestionable: “Poisoning.”

Uncontrollable pesticide spraying

LA REPUBLICA went to the scene, visiting different places guided by two residents in the area – our colleague Remigio Miguel Guichon and the councilor David Helguera, member of the Health Committee of the Departmental Board.

“We realized the magnitude of the problem only when the animal was dying,” a resident of the area worryingly said. An affected producer remarked “They collapsed or ran to the closest cattle track; nothing could be done to prevent those animals from dying.”

Devastation. Dozens of cattle and other animals died after the toxic spill.

At some point, the aircraft pilot noted that the plane had a breakdown; he came back to the landing strip in the field where he found a 20-liter can containing Pahser (the chemical’s trade name), but he did not inform about the event to authorities or people working in the enclosures. The following day, on Friday, the chaos broke out in the early hours of the morning. Nobody found a logical, accurate answer to the sudden death of all those animals.

Likewise, there is special concern because it has been observed that fish are dying in Cañada de Horno – a source of water supplying UPA water treatment plants and the entire city. Technical instructions state that all physical contact with pesticides should be avoided at least for fifteen days, and that the soil should be mixed so as to speed up the dispersion of pollutants.

It is estimated that in the next hours, more affected animals or dead animals might appear in the fields. Technicians and authorities from the Laboratorio Rubino, from the Veterinary Lab Head Office (Dilave, Dirección de Laboratorios Veterinarios), Police Forensic Investigation Unit and Departmental Council are working on this issue. The Liga del Trabajo de Guichon told this journalist that they disclaim any responsibility for this situation, and arranged a press conference covering all the details about the people responsible for the disaster.

This case can be considered an incident; however, what would we be talking about if those poisonous chemicals had fallen over a populated area, such as a school, a football field, etc.? Aerial sprayings cannot be controlled. They are an excessively dangerous “route of administration,” given the extent of chemical dispersion in the environment. We know that Sahara desert sand travels thousands of kilometers during sandstorms; that sand can be found in Canary Islands; each tiny particle is much heavier and thicker than the microdrops of sprayed agrochemicals. After heated debate in Europe, it was recognized that pesticides applied in France were detected in Iceland’s air 48 hours later.

This debate was finished by passing the Directive 128/09 of the European Parliament, establishing in section 9 that all Member States will guarantee the banning of aerial pesticide sprayings.

Directive 128/09 of the European Parliament banning aerial sprayings

In the Red Universitaria de Ambiente y Salud (University Network of Environment and Health) / Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, we have been demanding the complete ban of this way of applying pesticides in Argentina, although politicalauthorities have provided no response so far.

It is necessary to recognize that only 30% out of 100% of all sprayings are carried out by plane in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Santa Fe and Entre Rios, where most producers come from and where they live. However, in Northern provinces where transgenic crops are intruding areas populated by ancient farmers or native communities, this type of aerial application generally performed by corporations and sowing pools represents near 100% of the applications which are thoughtlessly affecting organic crops and animals grown for subsistence. It is urgent to stop this chemical war against rural populations, supported by corporate greed and the lack of interest displayed by the State and its different branches.


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5 respuestas a Crop-Dusting Plane Caused Chaos in Guichon

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