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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Spraying poison potentially deadly

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In relation to Byron Shire spraying and Terry Hamill’s letter of 25 June:

Are we banging our heads up against a brick wall? Will this shire ever get the message that herbicides are dangerous? So many letters have been written over so many years on this subject but still the council sprays. Bitou bush is sprayed every year in Suffolk Park.

On 10 March 2009, the cyclone Hamish was unleashing its very strong wind on Byron Bay. As I live on the beach at Suffolk Park, I went to check on the erosion problem and discovered a man in white overalls spraying the Bitou bush. This was really the wrong day to be doing this. I told my husband, as we have a water tank. My husband went to look; at this stage the man is now at the top of the dune in front of our house. My husband asked him, why do this today? He said to my husband, ‘get a job’. My husband said he was a retired solicitor and was vey concerned about the drift and the danger to the wildlife that lives in the dunes. With that the man started spraying again, and the spray went all over my husband’s legs.

I reported this straightaway to the council; I received a reply immediately. It was put in writing and the council replied with obvious concern about the incident.

Approximately 18 months later my husband’s right leg got swollen. It took another nine months for him to be diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma aggressive. Twelve months of chemo and all the other drugs during that period did not help and he died on 18 June this year at the tender age of 70. He was a fit and healthy man before he was sprayed, having just returned from a driving holiday around Australia. The haematologist said when told this story it was potentially serious; it only takes one cell to be affected, the cell then mutates then doubles and slowly increases.

My husband was sprayed with a mixture of Metsulfuron Methyl and Glyphosate, commonly called Roundup. There is evidence in the past that these herbicides have an increased risk of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Metsulfuron should not be mixed as this increases its toxicity. Roundup causes genetic damage to the immune system.

I have lost my lifelong partner whom I had known for 52 years. He was a well-respected member of our community, a just and fair solicitor to many people during his working life. So many other areas he was involved in, too numerous to mention here.

Virginia Black, Suffolk Park



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  1. The usual response to those who try to promote weed control / bush regeneration without herbicides is that it does not “work” – one has to keep going back to address the weeds again.

    But from Virginia we hear once again about the herbicide method being used annually. Which means, comparing things fairly, that the herbicide method does not “work”.

    So why do we continue to risk human health and the environment for an inferior method (because it risks human health and the environment)?

    My sympathies Virginia for becoming a victim of this refusal to support and nurture the development of non-herbicide methods of weed control.


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