Citizen stakeholders and members of the Barnstable County’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Risk Analysis Vegetation Management are denouncing the decision of that committee to support NStar’s herbicide use plan on Cape Cod. Sue Phelan of GreenCAPE, Jared Collins of Concerned Citizens Against Herbicide Use on Cape Cod, and Laura Kelley of Littlefield Landscapes resigned today from the Ad Hoc Committee. In a letter to the chairman of the committee, the members called for their names and the names of their respective organizations to be removed from the committee’s report.
“The Barnstable County Ad Hoc Committee has prematurely adjourned without ever addressing its task of risk analysis,” said Sue Phelan of GreenCAPE. “As the only citizen members of the committee and representatives of the Cape community, we are opposed to the use of herbicides on the power line easements without a precautionary approach that relies on up-to-date, scientific information. NStar and the MDAR (state Department of Agricultural Resources) continue to rely on 20-plus-year-old research supplied by pesticide manufacturers and on regulations that have not kept pace with current science.”
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulations do not mandate the use of herbicides, and in fact encourage the planting of low-growing plant species under utility lines.
“Because no health professionals were invited to sit on a committee tasked to investigate assessment of risk from the use of herbicides, GreenCAPE requested that a local physician present a health-based perspective to the committee,” said Sandra Larsen (Cape Cod for a Truly Green NStar). “His presentation included medical knowledge that finds exposure to toxins a potential contributing factor in disease occurrence for residents of Cape Cod.”
Already, 12 Cape towns have passed a resolution calling on NStar to abandon its current plan to spray herbicides on Cape Cod rights-of-way due to concerns about potential groundwater contamination and the threat to the water supply, wildlife, and families from exposure to the herbicides, additives, and breakdown products.
The coalition of groups opposing NStar’s herbicide spraying (Cape Cod for a Truly Green NStar) will continue to oppose the spraying of rights-of-way herbicides and to advocate for alternative methods of vegetation control over Cape Cod’s sole-source aquifer.
“Our coalition stands ready to cooperate with any entity -including NStar- in swiftly moving forward to a sustainable and safe approach to vegetation management on ROW,” stated Amanda Murphy of GreenCAPE. “We continue to request that NStar CEO Tom May listen to the voice of our communities.”
NStar power line easements are located in more than 78 percent of the water recharge areas of the Cape’s public water supply wells, noted Jared Collins of Concerned Citizens Against Herbicide Use on Cape Cod. “I am concerned that the Cape’s sole-source aquifer will be contaminated, because there is no science proving otherwise,” he said. “We have no other viable source of water. Are company profits a reason to threaten our drinking water supply? We have wells on Cape Cod that have become contaminated by indirect uses. Does it make sense to purposefully spray toxins over our aquifer when there are simple tactics to get rid of plants and weeds used routinely in other states, by other utilities?”
U.S.G.S. studies presented to the Ad Hoc Committee showed detections in surface and groundwater of the same herbicides NStar uses, and another study showed that herbicides applied on utility right of ways had been unexpectedly found in groundwater in southeastern Massachusetts.
“It is unconscionable that NSTAR would spray an herbicide untested for use on residential property on homeowners’ lots,” said Larsen. “Have they no concern for the children or the families of Cape Cod?”