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Construction Workers Say Second Agricultural Spray Sickened Them In Sutter County

SUTTER COUNTY (CBS13) — A second incident involving construction workers and aerial agriculture spraying may have sickened workers in Sutter County.

The first incident in July still has workers in and out of the hospital, they say.

Video from the July incident provided to CBS13 by one of the 10 workers sprayed with pesticide shows just how close the chopper came to the group of men working on the levee.

"The pilot was totally in error when they did the application," said Sutter County Agriculture Commissioner Mark Quisenberry.

Some of the men came down with chemical pneumonia, and they told CBS13 they still experience headaches, migraines and use inhalers.

The company that owns the helicopter will likely face fines for the incident, and Sutter County leaders say they now warn levee workers 48 hours before a pesticide drop.

But there was no notification several weeks later in September when the same men recorded a plane dropping a substance onto a nearby orchard.

Quisenberry says the plane was dropping a whitewash put on walnuts to make sure they don't burn.

The workers were not notified, because the plane wasn't spraying a pesticide.

Still, the workers say they had no idea what it was and went to the hospitals. The diagnosis according to doctor's notes CBS13 obtained from three men who say mist drifted from the plane was chemical exposure.

"Could've been a mist or could've just been the wind that the plane generates because they're going 100 mph," Quisenberry said.

He says an investigation found the pilot did nothing wrong in that case, but the pilot in July did.

The workers say they're now living with the consequences and want stricter guidelines that warn anyone in an area of a chemical spray.

The workers say if they got sprayed, they believe home and farm workers did too.

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