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Compost source of Carterton school freakout

Police have identified fresh compost as the source of illness at a Carterton primary school last week.

Emergency services were called to the school on High Street about 2.30pm on Friday with reports of an unpleasant smell and a number of ill children.

“Police spent a great deal of the time over the weekend searching the school, speaking to nearby residents and working with partner agencies to determine exactly what has occurred and when,” said Wairarapa Area Commander Inspector Scott Miller.

“We were able to rule out the involvement of a plane, and establish that a compost delivery to a nearby property occurred more than an hour earlier than originally thought.”

Children who were playing near the area fell ill about 1.20pm.

“Fresh compost, when hot, can omit a strong sulphur-like smell,” said Miller. “This is part of the normal manufacturing process.

“Medical experts advised that the children’s symptoms are consistent with inhaling compost fumes, and long-term side effects are extremely unlikely. The compost has now been spread in a thin layer so there are no ongoing safety concerns.”

Police are working with the manufacturer to put future safety processes in place.