One police officer is in a coma and another has lost almost 30 per cent of his lung capacity after being exposed to fumes from rotting drugs inside a police storage unit.
The NSW Police Force is now facing serious claims it failed to offer basic protection to the officers who had the task of handling degraded drug exhibits up to 13 years old.
Sergeant Nader "Ralph" Hanna, 46, and Detective Senior Constable Andrew McGrath, 38, were both exposed to the strong fumes when moving a bag containing the ecstasy precursor safrole in the state's biggest crime evidence locker.
The officers were among three directed in February to carry out a "drug audit" on items in evidence storage still required for court proceedings.
They claimed the "drug room" had a constant strong chemical smell and they did not have protective gear or training in handling chemicals.