‘I couldn’t breathe at all’: retiree allegedly poisoned

NOT EVERY cloud has a silver lining.

Especially for this Gold Coast retiree who claims he was poisoned by a cloud of diesel smoke that was pumped into his own home from a neighbouring property.

Labrador resident Doug Mathieson was hospitalised last Thursday after generators from the neighbouring construction site allegedly pumped the fumes into his unit.

The permanent generators which spewed the smoke into Mr Mathieson's property are part of the emergency watering system for the neighbouring luxury apartment tower Three72 Marine.

The 14-storey complex, which is being constructed by developers Aniko Group, towers over Mr Mathieson's small two storey walk-up - where he has lived for more than 15 years.

The 71-year-old had been told by developers the generators would run rarely and only in emergencies, however in the last three weeks they have been started up at least four times, he said.

Doug’s apartment is nestled between two highrises. Picture Glenn Hampson
Doug’s apartment is nestled between two highrises. Picture Glenn Hampson

The most recent event landed Mr Mathieson in hospital overnight with what doctors diagnosed dyspnoea (shortness of breath) due to respiratory acidosis - an inability to remove excess CO2 from the lungs.

"It was a normal day and then the generator turned on and began pumping the fumes that afternoon," Mr Mathieson said.

"It ran for over an hour and I couldn't breathe at all, I had to go up to the hospital."


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Doctors told Mr Matheison they could "smell him coming" given the amount of diesel fumes that could be smelt on his clothes.

Mr Mathieson said he had raised his concerns with the property owners but was repeatedly told they were checking the pump.

"They tell us it is a back-up pump in case the building catches fire, it increases water pressure up to the 14th floor," Mr Mathieson said.

"The issue is it blows smoke right into our apartment, because the exhausts have been built into the wall facing our property.

"When it is turned on, the smoke bellows out, the bottom floor residents have it worse."

A Gold Coast City Council environmental officer had also reportedly been made aware of the issue.

The apartment tower also boasts a palatial outdoor cinema - which is by Mr Mathieson's bedroom window.

"There is so much stress that goes on with this building, it has been 18 months now," he said.

"We have precast concrete walls right on our doorstep, it has changed our whole environment."

Aniko Group managing director George Mastrocostas said the company had identified a manufacturing fault in the emergency fire pump which was in the process of being replaced under warranty.

"The pump was accidentally set off by a contractor which led to the fault being identified," Mr Mastrocostas said.

"Obviously, we were very concerned about this incident and the health of the gentleman who we have subsequently spoken to and understand has recovered."

The smoke was allegedly pumped in from a neighbouring property. Picture Glenn Hampson
The smoke was allegedly pumped in from a neighbouring property. Picture Glenn Hampson

The part is being replaced with a correctly operating pump and according to the developer "will not create this emission problem."

Gold Coast City Council confirmed it had received a complaint concerning diesel fumes from 372 Marine Parade and was in the process of working with the developer and complainant to resolve the issue.

"The safety of residents is our first priority and should the matter be ongoing, council may take enforcement action including issuing a fine," a spokeswoman said.