Authorities look into pesticide spraying accident

Friday, July 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Ten bulls died and five feedlot employees required hospitalization after too much pesticide was sprayed at a northeastern Oklahoma cattle feedlot, officials say. A field inspector from the state Department of Agriculture visited Neill Cattle Co. in Welch on Thursday and interviewed owner Joe Neill about the July 19 accident.

The affected cattle were not owned by the Neill Cattle Co., but by another person who bought the pesticide from the feedlot and used it in the Neill pasture. An employee of the cattle owner apparently misunderstood the amount of fly spray to be used on the animals, according to a news release issued by Neill Cattle Co. "An employee of the customer that owned the cattle had sprayed the cattle with fly spray purchased from the feedlot," the release stated. "The customer's employee had assumed the spray was for a full wetting of the animals, when in fact it was to be used only as a mist."

Ten bulls died, although the rest of the group appeared to have survived without lasting effects, the Neill statement said. Five of the Neill employees were sent to Integris Baptist Regional Medical Center in Miami, where all but one was treated and released the same day. One employee stayed in the hospital overnight for observation. "There didn't seem to be any lasting effect," hospital spokesman Dave Simpson said. Agriculture Department field inspector Jerry Legg said he doesn't believe Neill is liable for the over spraying. "I can't see that he has any liability," Legg said. "The other (cattle owner) came in and purchased the chemicals. He should know and read the labels. He should determine how to mix it and how to apply it."

The cattle owner was not identified. Neill contacted federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials shortly after the accident last week. "We are required to be notified only if there is a fatality or three or more employees are hospitalized overnight," said Jim Brown, assistant area director in OHSA's Oklahoma City office. "Actually, he (Neill) didn't have to report it." Brown said the federal agency has no plans to further investigate the over spraying. The chemical that was over sprayed was an organic phosphate, a pesticide labeled for combatting fly and tick infestations in livestock.