Herbicide scare at Lismore Base hospital
By ZOE SATHERLEY
A FULL scale chemical decontamination operation swung into operation outside Lismore Base Hospital yesterday.
A man was rushed to the hospital around 10am, after he was thought to have been sprayed on his face, body and in his mouth with the herbicide Paraquat.
Paraquat has been banned in many countries because of its high toxicity. It is absorbed by the skin and exposure to it can be fatal.
Hospital authorities were forced to decontaminate the affected man on the tarmac outside the hospital building as the threat to other patients and to staff would have been too great, a spokesperson said.
The man, a mechanic employed by Wyrallah tea tree growers, Australian Plantations, was testing a chemical spray pump when a hose parted from its housing, drenching him.
Fire brigade officers called to the hospital to help with the man's decontamina- tion also believed the chemical to be Paraquat. It is one of the chemicals used at the plantation.
However, Australian Plantations manager, Robert Tillman, said the chemical involved in the accident was the herbicide commonly known as Roundup and it had been in a diluted solution.
A hospital spokesman said Lismore Base Hospital would soon have a fully screened, externally located, permanent decontamination unit installed.
The man was reported to be in a stable condition and was expected to be released by this morning, the hospital spokesman said.