A whistleblower recorded hundreds of videos showing helicopters spraying toxic weed killers onto Oregon timber workers below.
After answering a Craigslist job posting, Daryl Ivy spent 17 days this spring working as a truck driver for Applebee Aviation in Douglas County, where he said chemicals stained his windshield and caused him to cough up blood, reported Oregon Live.
The 45-year-old Ivy eventually sought treatment at a hospital, where he was decontaminated and placed in isolation before he was diagnosed with acute chemical exposure and contact dermatitis.
A monitor from the state’s Department of Forestry was at the site last month, during one of the times Ivy recorded video, but did not report any violations.
Authorities typically investigate complaints after alleged violations occur, but such cases are rare – only six complaints about aerial sprays were investigated last year by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
The videos show helicopters drop weed killers as logging trucks drive through the forest, leaving the vehicles covered in milky chemicals as they pass homes, campgrounds, and rivers.
Workers aren’t supposed to enter spray sites for up to 48 hours, and directly spraying the workers is illegal.
The videos identify one of the weed killers as Velossa, which can cause permanent eye damage, and another, 2 4-D, causes skin irritation and dizziness.
Workers are supposed to take off their clothes and wash their skin for 15 minutes if they come into contact with the herbicides, but Ivy said he was never told that.
The timberlands manager for Seneca Jones Co. – which hired Applebee Aviation to spray the site – denied that any foresters were sprayed, even after watching two video clips with a newspaper reporter showing herbicides raining down directly onto Ivy’s crew.
Ted Reiss, the timberlands manager, said the company’s observers didn’t see anything during the incidents shown in the video that would back Ivy’s claims – but he said the company took the accusations seriously and were cooperating with state investigators.
The owner of Applebee Aviation and the helicopter pilot both declined to comment.
Records show that an Applebee pilot dumped insecticide onto a bicyclist in 2010 – but neither he nor the company was fined.
Another Applebee pilot allowed weed killers to drift 400 feet onto a neighboring lawn during a Seneca Jones spray operation, sickening several people, and both the pilot and the company were fined $407 each.
Ivy, who the newspaper reported still is coughing blood, has hired attorneys and plans to file a worker’s compensation suit against the company.
Watch this video report posted online by Oregon Live: