Cape Cod Activists just don't get it. What's new when it comes to the topic of pesticides.

A decision had been made regarding regulating pesticides at the federal level. There is no need for redundant regulating at the local level. This seems like a simple analogy. But it really isn’t, especially when you deal with people who throw fact and science out the window when decision making.

The court held that to permit a local board to second-guess the determination of the state board would frustrate the purpose of the Act.

Cape Cod residents have been fighting to stop their local Power Company NSTAR from spraying Hydro Right of Ways with Herbicides. Residents are even volunteering their time to cut brush by hand to save the environment, yet they may be totally unaware of the true dangers involved with high voltage transmission lines and personal safety.

Cape Cod Residents have even compiled their own evidence to prove locals have higher levels of cancer.

Town of Wendell v. Attorney General (April 11, 1985, Decided)
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
394 Mass. 518; 476 N.E.2d 585; 1985 Mass. LEXIS 1444

The town commenced an action challenging the attorney general’s disapproval under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 40, § 32, of a by-law, adopted by the town, which regulated the use of pesticides in the town for other than agricultural and domestic uses. The town sought an order directing the attorney general to approve the by-law and to determine that it was valid. Subsequent to the attorney general’s disapproval of the by-law, the board of health adopted a regulation also purporting to regulate the use of pesticides. A superior court judge affirmed the attorney general’s disapproval and ruled that the board of health regulation exceeded the board’s authority. The town appealed and the court vacated portions of the trial court’s judgment and entered a new judgment. The court concluded that the by-law was inconsistent in a significant respect with the Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act (Act); therefore, the court did not need to decide whether the by-law was preempted, and thus unlawful, under Federal Law. The court held that to permit a local board to second-guess the determination of the state board would frustrate the purpose of the Act.

Nstar April4th, 2010
April4 2010

March 18th, 2010
March18th

Selectmen Agree To Support Herbicide Moratorium For A Year

by William F. Galvin

HARWICH – On a 3-2 vote Monday night, the board of selectmen Monday night on a 3-2 vote agreed to send a letter to the commissioner of the state Department of Agricultural Resources in support of a one-year moratorium on herbicide spraying along power line rights of ways.

The vote came after more than two hours of discussion, which included a presentation by NSTAR officials and numerous comments from approximately 40 people in attendance. Selectmen Larry Cole and Larry Ballantine voted against sending the letter.

Harwich resident Pam Russell urges residents to write Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares in support of a moratorium on herbicide spraying planned by NSTAR during the selectmen’s meeting on Monday night. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

Cole questioned the necessity of a one-year moratorium and wanted to know what the town expected to accomplish over that period, and whether a moratorium should be tied to a specific action, such as new legislation instead of a 12-month period.

Ballantine admitted early on in the NSTAR presentation that while he did not want to defend NSTAR, but he found their proposal “responsible,” citing the use of backpack spraying apparatus and plans to stay away from water bodies, vernal pools and wells.

At the onset of the discussion, Board of Selectmen Chairman Ed McManus explained the use of herbicides as proposed by the utility company is under the state’s control and local towns cannot invoke bans. He said the town’s role is to identify sensitive environmental areas, and public and private wells to assure applicators stay clear.

“We can express our opinion on the use of herbicides in town,” McManus added.

Bill Hayes, a senior arborist with NSTAR, made a presentation on the company’s vegetation management plan along power lines, explaining the initial step as mechanical, focusing on mowing, chemical control in the following years and then natural control – the plant community they’d like to have growing out there.

Mowing, he said, leaves the root systems in the ground, and the herbicide application is designed to target woody vegetation. That process is done by applicators using backpack spraying apparatus. Applications are both on cut stems and foliage.

Hayes said they will use sensitive area chemicals throughout the Cape and stay 50 feet away from private wells, 400 feet away from public wells and 10 feet from vernal pools and other surface waters.

Conservation Administrator John Chatham said some of the conservation measures are cut short and he cited applications proposed within 10 feet of vernal pools, rivers and surface waters. Chatham said he called Hayes’ office two months ago to discuss sensitive areas in town, but he never heard back from NSTAR.

He pointed out NSTAR is using the same chemicals that have been employed for years and asked if it might be more responsible to look at organic herbicides that are on the market and are more environmentally friendly.

The conservation administrator said there are 150 miles of power lines on the Cape and the rights of way are 200 feet wide. That’s a lot of herbicide treatment on a peninsula where residents are consuming the groundwater, Chatham said.

But NSTAR senior arborist Paul Sellers responded, citing an application in Harwich of 30 acres of right of way in 2007 where only 88 gallons were sprayed. He said there will be a dramatic reduction this year because of the reduced stem density from the previous application.

Water Department Superintendent Craig Wiegand expressed concern for mixing and transporting chemicals through Harwich. He said there are no clear details for addressing a spill. Power lines go through sections of the public well fields, he said.

“The board of health in principle is opposed to herbicide spraying,” chairman Dr. Stanley Kocot said. He added they are frustrated by state regulations that take the responsibility to regulate herbicides away from the local board.

Pam Russell, who raised the concern with selectmen a month ago, also expressed concern for damage to the sole-source aquifer on the Cape. She said the soils are sandy here and chemical migration is fast. She said a year is needed to study the option for Cape Cod and she urged residents to write state Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares before March 27 in support of a moratorium.

Carla Priest said when she lived in Bedford more than 20 years ago chemicals caused the shutdown of three town wells and cost the town $9 million. She said there is evidence herbicides cause potential adverse health issues such as cancer, tumors, nerve damage, attention deficit disorders, miscarriages, embryo defects and disrupted hormones. Priest said the Silent Spring Institute has found 23 pesticides insides homes on the Cape and has recommended use be reduced or eliminated.

Laura Kelley, an Eastham resident, questioned how herbicides react with other man-made chemicals in the environment. “Are we making a Perfect Storm?” Kelley said federal law does not mandate herbicide application and there are options; she urged working on the state, county and local level to employ those options.

“You guys concentrate on power and let us take care of vegetation,” Kelley said. She cited efforts in some towns to have people cut away vegetation, explaining this could create jobs.

Harwich resident Jen Stevenson requested that the town provide a sustainable pesticide management program to protect her family. She said she is against the NSTAR plan and does not believe herbicides should be used.

One man urged testing and establishing a baseline study of cancer and miscarriages. He said on a windy day chemicals can travel 600 feet during application.

“Cape Cod has the highest breast cancer rate in the United States,” said a Dennis woman. “The people own the land (under the power lines) and NSTAR has an easement. They have the right to use it, not contaminate it.”

There were questions raised about the qualifications of those applying the herbicides. Cranberry grower Leo Cakounes said he is a licensed applicator for herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers and it requires an all-day test, taking four classes and learning a book two-and-a-half inches thick. It also requires 12 hours of classes for recertification every three years. They are trained in handling, mixing and transporting, Cakounes said.

Cakounes said he has had his differences with NSTAR over stray voltage issues and on getting electricity down a road to his barn, but he stands there to support them. He said about 1,500 feet of his bogs are along power lines and NSTAR agreed to keep the chemicals 100 feet away so he could retain his organic cranberry status.

“Allow them to go forward with what they put forward, it’s allowed by law,” Cakounes said.

However, a neighbor of Cakounes,’ Chris Norcross, said he has noticed the impacts of the use of chemicals over the years, adding, “I’ve witnessed a Silent Spring, fish kills and three-legged frogs, not from acid rain, it was DDT and later on it was agent orange, but they called it something else.”

Cole said he does not think all the chemicals that get placed on the ground end up in the aquifer. He also said the Silent Spring Institute efforts have not drawn the connections to health complications, including breast cancer.

“I’d like to see a study that shows causal relations,” Cole said.

The selectman did take issue with the age of the documentation in the yearly operational plan provided by NSTAR, adding it does not contain recent research, and he urged that be made available. Selectman Angelo LaMantia recommended they send a letter to the state to get updated documents.

There is recent data available Ballantine said, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency would have access. The USGS has also done water monitoring programs across the country.

“Spot treatment won’t cause a toxic waste dump,” Ballantine said.

McManus recommended the board write NSTAR and ask them to meet with the conservation commission and provide the town with advance notice of planned application so no town employees are in the area at the time.

The board also addressed the moratorium issue. Cole said the year delay was recommended by the Cape Cod Commission so it could conclude its GIS mapping of sensitive areas of the Cape. The majority of the board agreed this is a regional issue and scientific studies should be done to see if different forms of application are necessary for Cape Cod.

Feb25th, 2010
Feb25th

August 21, 2009
Aug21st, 2009

June 2009
Environment too sensitive to risk using herbicides – June 22, 2009
Citizens Against the Use of Herbicides on Cape Cod, a grass-roots group, wants to halt the use of poison on our Cape Cod lands (“Eastham fights power-line herbicide spray,”June 19).

Bike paths, marine habitats and wetlands, lake and pond wetlands and wildlife habitat should be free from exposure to any amounts of herbicides.

Our families and wells do not need exposure. Cancer rates on Cape Cod are high enough and we are already experiencing being downwind

Pesticides, McGinty, Gerretsen, Ontario, Pesticide Ban, Organic

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