Workers at the Roy Hill mine construction site in the Pilbara were rocked by news this week that a piece of fruit at the site canteen was found to be laced with cyanide.
The disturbing discovery was made after a FIFO worker complained to catering staff earlier this week about discolouration of a kiwi fruit..
Management notified police after a chemical analysis confirmed the fruit contained cyanide, a chemical not stored or used on the site.
In a statement, police spokesman Samuel Dinnison said it was uncertain whether the poisoning was deliberate and/or malicious.
“At this point in time it is not known what the intent of the poison was, or if there was a specific target,” Mr Dinnison said.
9News claims to have sited a document that says a, “…small penetrating hole on the seal of the container, and inside the fruit a pink-red discolouration round the site of contamination”.
Speaking to the ABC Roy Hill Holdings chief executive Barry Fitzgerald said the poisoning was very troubling.
“Both we and the police are treating this as an entirely isolated incident and obviously the police are taking this seriously and we would hope that they would find out what the cause is and who the perpetrator was.”
“The item of fruit has been independently tested by a certified laboratory in Perth with preliminary results indicating that an instance of contamination has occurred,”
“The incident was immediately reported to the police and relevant health authorities, who are now formally investigating the incident.
“Our first and foremost priority is the safety and wellbeing of our people. We have tightened our food security as a means of ensuring no further incidents occur.
Mr Fitzgerald said police have arrived on site and security has been stepped up.
“In terms of work on site it is business as usual. With our catering contractor we have worked with them and we have implemented additional security both within the supply side, the preparation and serving,” he said.
“We’ve asked our contractors to increase security in terms of the messes on site, the crib rooms and we’ve highlighted the need for personal responsibility in terms of ensuring they are careful about what they eat.”
All fruit has been removed from the mess and the workforce has been asked to remove any fruit they may have in their rooms or in the fridges.
“We have made available and will continue to make available what we are calling emergency rations which are tamper-proof,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“They have been pre-packaged so therefore it is clear that they are ok and that we have made those available for those who do feel at risk.”