The Friendlyjordies team have been provided documents detailing correspondence between the New South Wales Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and Narromine community members with regards to reports of defoliation due to pesticides in the Narromine region. The following exchanges detail the EPA’s Pesticide Monitoring Program and its results.
The Friendlyjordies team have been provided documents detailing the EPA’s Pesticide Monitoring Program and evidence that pesticides have been found at monitoring stations throughout 2021.
In August of 2020, the convenor of the COG wrote to Mr. McGregor and the EPA of the pesticide chemical, Diuron, having been found in samples from the Peppercorn trees in the Narromine region. Again, the COG representatives sought further escalation of the matter:
“The community remains concerned at the lack of effective actions related to reported Defoliation Damage from the EPA. We will work with the EPA to examine the implications of this synthetic chemical exposure to our community. Given the prior evidence provided to the EPA regarding this issue we are seeking immediate and substantive actions that take a full assessment of the risk that our community may be facing in the coming Cotton growing season. Would you please advise how this issue is being escalated and how specifically the findings of Diuron in the vegetation affected by Defoliation Damage will be addressed.”
In August of 2021, the COG received an email from the NSW EPA’s Stephen Budgen, the Director of Regulatory Operations, which was in response to the Narromine community reaching out to then-Minister for Energy and Environment, Matt Kean, with a complaint about the EPA’s management regarding the issue:
“I refer to your letter to the Minister for Energy and Environment, the Hon Matt Kean MP about a complaint of the EPA management over-spraying pesticide. Your letter was referred to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and I have been asked to reply.”
After claiming that the EPA both understands the consequences of pesticide misuse and “takes appropriate regulatory action in response” to all complaints received, Mr. Budgen states that all four complaints made had been investigated and that there was insufficient grounds to take regulatory action for breaches of legislation. Furthermore, although fungicide was found at the site of an alleged overspray, the EPA concluded that the amounts were unlikely to harm a human being.
Mr. Budgen closes the letter and also notes that the EPA had undertaken a ‘Summer Pesticides Monitoring’ program from January to April of 2021, with the results being used to “Inform EPA compliance and enforcement activities, and future work by the Community Overspray Groups.”
Another email provided to the Friendlyjordies team, dated to September of 2021, appears to show the recorded details of an investigation ticket within the NSW EPA’s systems, detailing the “Dubbo Region Pilot Pesticides Monitoring Project.” The email notes that pesticides had been detected in samples dated from March, April and May of 2021.