Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Can we afford to spray?

The Cape & Islands delegation of state representatives and senators are going to meet soon to continue the discussion about NSTAR’s spraying of herbicides under their power lines.

NSTAR claims that its plan is responsible and others say that the larger issue lies with homeowners’ use of glyphosates (like Round-Up) and widespread use of fertilizers that pollute fresh and saltwater resources.

I’m not so sure that pointing out other risky behaviors exonerates the whole.

We have a single lens aquifer on Cape Cod. We got it wrong years ago when routine spilling of fuels and mishandling of explosives resulted in a pollution disaster under the Massachusetts Military Reservation.

Let’s not get it wrong again.

Vote your opinion in my latest poll at the top right corner of this page.


  1. As someone that uses these chemicals for a living, I can assure you that there is little to no danger of contamination if the herbicide is mixed and applied according to the label. I believe that an all out ban on this type of chemical will lead to a loss of jobs and a reduction in the average wage of licensed lawn health care technicians on the cape because it will make our licenses useless and therefore put us on the same level as your average landscaper or mowing crew. Safe and professional use? Yes! An all out ban? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

  2. Randy, I think the decision has to be based on 'real' scientific data. We have had some poor examples of voodoo science on the MMR, specifically the use of tungsten in lieu of lead bullets, when in fact the tungsten was 1000 times worse for the environment. The pressure of public opinion, not scientific data caused that calamity. Please...real scientific data only when making these decisions. A lot of people think of agent orange whenever the use of herbicides is mentioned. I do believe the issue has to be evaluated scientifically not out of fear.

  3. Scientific data are well and good, but take time. We are only just beginning to find out what harm these endocrine disruptors can really do. I don't think we should use them, hoping for the best, until we find out they're harmful -- I think we should not use them until we are certain they do not cause harm. Our sole source aquifer does not leave us much room for error or experiment.

    I have read that these chemicals, used in accordance with label instructions, do not penetrate to the water table. That may be. But it doesn't change the fact that we ought not to be releasing them to the environment at all.

    Yes, residential use of RoundUp &c. is problematic. That makes no difference to the case against NSTAR's spraying.

    As I said in my letter to NSTAR: We have these machines now, with whirling blades on the bottom that cut grass and other vegetation. They are called mowers, and they're the more responsible solution to NSTAR's vegetation problem.

  4. Given the risks to well water why should we take chances with sprays? I don't think it's wise to trust in the same old "just do it" attitudes that have recently put forward old science here. No way should we risk the ground water.


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