Four people on the Isle of Lewis, including two estate workers and two paramedics, were sent to hospital last night after fears they’d been exposed to the banned pesticide Cyanide.
According to a local blogger Iain Maciver (here), Uig Lodge estate owner, Dickon Green ‘accidentally sucked up a bag of cyanide powder‘ with his vacuum cleaner and ‘the deadly poison then shot through the cleaner and came out the other end in a cloud of dust which showered the businessman’.
According to the BBC, “The poison is understood to have been in storage and was for pest control“. If this was Sodium Cyanide, it was banned under the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005 (see here).
The local blogger claims Mr Green was vacuum-packing the deadly powder ‘ready for it to be transported for safe disposal at a mainland poisons depository‘. He goes on: “He’d found it in the lodge where it was thought to have been for many years since previous owners used it for exterminating rats and he had failed to get a local agency to take responsibility for its safe disposal”.
If this version of events is accurate, it raises important questions about the safe disposal of these banned poisons. Who takes responsibility? The local authorities? Or the hapless landowner who may not have the required expertise to safely handle these highly dangerous substances, putting themselves, and others, at great risk?
A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said: “The incident has involved a number of agencies working together and there is not believed to be any further risk to the public“.
Earlier this year there was another scare involving this banned posion, when gamekeeper Graeme Thompson claimed (falsely) that he’d swallowed Cyanide, along with some razor blades. It resulted in a huge operation involving the emergency services for fear he could contaminate hundreds of nearby residents (see here and here).