The Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources is responsible for approving the Yearly Operational Plan. MDAR can also deny or postpone approval, though it has never done so. Perhaps this will be the year! If you oppose the use of herbicides, or have a particular issue, such as an easement on your land that should not be sprayed, or a vernal pool, send your concerns to John Lebeaux and Micheal McClean (contact information listed above).
Why? Read on...
...for our water protection -- sandy, porous, dry soil can cause toxic chemicals to leach through to our water supply, a sole source aquifer.
The EPA designated the entire Cape and Islands water supply a sole source aquifer meaning there are NO alternative drinking water sources that could physically, legally, and economically supply all of those who depend upon the aquifer for drinking water. Our only water source is the groundwater beneath our feet. It requires special protection. There is no remediation for compromised water, at least none the tourists will wait for. What happens to our tourist economy? The value of our homes? It's a risk that NSTAR is willing to take. If the water has never been tested for the herbicides NSTAR uses, then how can the company be blamed? Did you drink water anywhere else than Cape Cod? See EPA Region 1 Sole Source Aquifer Program.
Despite state and local regulations which require no chemicals within 100 feet from wells, NSTAR sprays up to 50 feet from wells. Download/view MDAR Sensitive Area Table.
...to avoid danger of wind drift of chemicals -- Cape Cod is a windy place!
How Pesticides Drift (interactive slides from the Associated Press) Label directions on the pesticides vary, but in general, optimal wind conditions are between 3 and 10 MPH. It is simply too windy here to use anything but hand clearing. NSTAR supposedly varies its spraying locations to avoid windy places. That is also why it's impossible to predict where sprayers will be on any given day. The accurate and useful notification of abutters is impossible.
NSTAR says pesticide labels that say AVOID WIND DRIFT are only guidelines. NSTAR says it would not be legally responsible for mistakes. Maybe so. Anybody over there on NSTAR Way have a conscience??
NSTAR predecessor Boston Edison won awards for its sensitive method of defoliation by machine and hand cutting. NSTAR sprayers ignore wind and rain because the spraying schedule is 4-6 weeks. NSTAR denied any responsibility for the 2014 tragedy at Sea Horse Farm in Harwich.
... Nstar says herbicide spraying is a safe, low cost method of clearing vegetation. In reality:
Most other countries follow The Precautionary Principle and DON'T allow herbicides.
Pesticides cause super weeds which require stronger chemicals.
Pesticides are being implicated in human genetic changes. Scientists know that cancer begins when normal cells mutate.
International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization Report finds glyphosate is a probable carcinogen to humans, March 20, 2015.
The Atlantic Magazine, March 2014 -- The Toxins that Threaten Our Brains
Islanders Not Buying NSTAR's Promise that Chemical Spraying is Safe
--use of old science -- dated pesticide studies. EPA has been studying one questionable chemical,glyphosate, for years. Monsanto, Dow et al. are politically powerful. Look what's happening with GMO's -- super strong chemicals for super weeds coming out this year. The grains we eat are being grown from special seeds which allow the plants to be SPRAYED with weed killer and do not die.
Ignoring the most basic scientific principal: organisms mutate when exposed to chemicals.
--EPA's Pesticide Testing Is Outdated. Scientists have been complaining for years. April 2009 article in Scientific American magazine.: Pesticide Testing Outdated
--Pesticide companies use words like "relatively safe" to describe their own products. Arsenal and other pesticide labeling says sprayers should cover up and wear gloves. NSTAR doesn't think that's necessary.
--NSTAR's arborist Bill Hayes says pesticides are safer than nicotine or caffeine. Lethal Dose testing does not prove anything. There's a reason we don't give our kids nicotine or caffeine. There is no accurate testing method for human, especially fetal, safety with pesticides.
IT'S A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE! Tragically, the use of pesticides and herbicides has been separated from the public health issue.
...How does a supposedly green company say spraying is safe?
That's an easy one! Eversource, the new NSTAR creation, no longer claims to be a green company. But it's a rich one. Tom May got over a $ 1 million bonus this year for managing OUR risk. Supposedly an Integrated Vegetation Management plan contains "procedures to prevent unreasonable risks to humans or the environment." Risk management is pretty lucrative. He used the so called moratorium to buy a big estate on the Cape in Osterville. Gosh, Tom, not a nice way to treat your neighbors who have asked you again and again to NOT spray on Cape Cod.
Gone from the new Eversource Energy website: "NSTAR is committed to conducting its business in a way that least impacts the environment. We're always looking for new and different ways to meet that commitment. Its all part of our mission of delivering great service to our customers." (formerly at www.nstar.com/about_nstar/green/)
Nstar has also given up saying it would create beautiful meadows because it knows that spraying endangers bees, butterflies and people and animals who walk on the land. It ruins healthy soil microbes. (The primary source of the pesticide effect is microbial according to the labels.)
Because there has been NO water testing, we don't know the effect of NSTAR's previous spraying. They never admitted spraying Eastham without accurate maps of the private wells.
One thing NSTAR does say is that it's only responsible for 1% of the chemicals used on the Cape. This figure comes from an entirely specious draft study paid for by the Cape Cod Commission. Short phone interviews combined use of herbicides with use of pesticides like grub killers and ant traps. The study assumed homeowners sprayed every inch of their property. Most people pull up or dig up saplings on their property, not spray them with Roundup. Not NSTAR!
NSTAR sprayed over 2,000 gallons of unknown mixtures of herbicides over public and private land two years ago. The mixtures are proprietary--and additives and inerts don't have to be divulged. We do know that the utility herbicides are the strongest mixtures. Not the same thing you can buy in the hardware store. Krenite is not approved for use around people. NSTAR sprayed 100% of the krenite used on the Cape.
...Defoliating with toxic persistent chemicals is legal in Massachusetts. NSTAR's attitude is that if it's legal, why not do it?
There is no doubt that pesticide companies had much to do with the language in 333 CMR 11, The Code Of Massachusetts Regulations. It It assumes there are advantages to the use of chemicals and gives jurisdiction to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, MDAR.
The Dept. of Agricultural Resources AND The Department of Public Utilities AND The Department of Environmental Protection are ALL part of the Office of the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. There are public health officials on the Pesticide Board, but they do not seem to weigh in on the MDAR decisions.
For years, NSTAR has ignored the No Spray Resolutions of all 15 Cape towns.
Residents, local and state officials and tourists of Cape Cod have said in public commments that it is risky, questionable, irresponsible and unnecessary. Read the Bourne Selectmen's letter to the Governor. Bourne residents voted at Town Meeting that herbicides are not to be used in town. The selectmen asked the Governor and MDAR to rescind the 5 Year Vegetation Management Plan and STOP the spraying until the use of herbicides could be studied. There were no studies ever published during the "moratorium."
Really! This is why it's so important for you to write and call officials and voice your concerns.
Click here to Protect Cape Cod's Fragile Groundwater and Our Health.
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Please share with friends and concerned citizens.
On March 31, 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) will no doubt approve the 2018 - 2022 Eversource 5 Year VMP for Cape Cod despite serious and widespread objections from Cape residents and tourists. If you live or vacation on Cape Cod, you should know that many Cape Cod towns have been targeted for herbicide spraying as part of the electric utility Eversource right of way (ROW) herbicide plans.
It is crucial that Cape residents –especially those living next to the Rights-of-Way-submit a public comment, however brief, stating their objections to the annual spraying of thousands of gallons of an herbicide mixture that has never been fully tested for human or environmental health effects. Submit your comments to:
John Lebeaux, Commissioner
MA Department of Agricultural Resources
251 Causeway St, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114
MA Department of Agricultural Resources
Chief Pesticide Inspector, Crop & Pest Services
251 Causeway St, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114
MA Department of Agricultural Resources
Pesticide Inspector/ROW Program
251 Causeway St, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114
Please make the “people’s lawyer”-Attorney General Maura Healey-aware of your concerns today and send a copy of your objections to your town officials and state representatives as well.
Maura Healey, Attorney General
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108 -1518
The deadline for Cape and Vineyard residents to comment is 5:00 PM Friday, March 30, 2018 .
Many towns throughout the Commonwealth will be sprayed as well. To find NSTAR’s plan for your town, click here. The health impacts of pesticides are often long-term and even multigenerational. Even pesticides no longer in use can continue to affect your personal health. This reinforces the need for a more precautionary approach to regulating pesticides and other industrial chemicals. Once released into the environment, chemicals can affect YOUR health and your family’s health for generations, either through persistence in the environment or long-term changes to your genetic code. So-submit your public comment but also organize, organize, organize! GreenCAPE has always offered to work as a point of contact for any abutters to organize against pollution of their land and water. Again we urge abutters who are serious about stopping the spraying all over Cape Cod and MA to contact us WELL BEFORE you see the spray crews. By then it may be too late. If you are a right of way (ROW) abutter, be sure to check your deed language NOW. Contact GreenCAPE and we’ll work with you on a realistic plan and a plan to help your neighbors so your ‘hood can be protected from harmful herbicide spraying. It only works by working together!
After checking your deed for utility easement language-POST your land "No trespassing, No cutting, No spraying or other application of herbicides without signed consent of the land owner!!" Then if the spray crews show up and cross the line without consent they may be liable for criminal trespass!! Videotape everything for possible future litigation. PROTEST on your property whenever they show up-preferably in concert with your neighbors. It’s your right to protest anything being done to your land that you don't approve. Private property rights are still among the strongest traditions in this country. Make sure the press is invited! The outcome will be much better when more eyes are on it.
Please include the Attorney General's Office in ANY comment or contact you have with MDAR-especially if you suspect you or your home have been exposed to the herbicide spray. Previous investigations of harmful spray exposures have not been at all timely or thorough and it is critical to document any exposure immediately with MDAR, the Attorney General’s office and your physician or local emergency room. Documentation is key. Videotapes with dates are even better. The utility insists they use door tags or face-to-face notification of impending spraying but this is rarely the case. They are breaking the law if they don't provide the door hanger or verbal notice to the property owner. Lack of notice followed by spraying should be reported to MDAR and the Attorney General’s (AGs) office immediately. MDAR is risking public safety by not enforcing the regulations.
If history is any indication, MA Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) and the MA State Pesticide Bureau will simply not have met their burden to approve the Eversource Yearly Operational Plan (YOP) but they will approve it nonetheless…In the past they have failed to inspect and enforce the previous YOPs and the related state regulations. The Eversource YOP does NOT satisfy the requirements set forth in M.G.L. c.132 B and 333CMR 11.00 which it will state in its approval. But of even more immediate concern, there is evidence on day-one of implementing their 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 YOPs that NSTAR/now Eversource operated outside of the law. NSTAR/now Eversource admitted to spraying on Monday November 18, 2013 (and appears to have done so on subsequent days) when conditions did NOT meet label regulations (wind data) . M.G.L. c. 132 B Section 6A states: Section 6A. “No person shall use a registered pesticide in a manner that is inconsistent with its labeling or other restrictions imposed by the department”.
Seahorse Farm Letter from owner to Gov. Patrick after being sprayed by the public Utility NSTAR.
As of October 14, 2014, toxic pesticide exposures from NSTAR’s spraying private residential property under their electrical lines are no longer speculative. Widespread spraying of herbicides drifted outside the NSTAR transmission right-of-way (ROWs) in Harwich, MA, exposing a horse farm with 16 horses and their humans and a few dogs. Clare Bergh, the owner of Sea Horse Farm reported that no notification of impending spraying had been delivered to her and that during the spraying the wind was blowing 10 miles per hour with higher gusts. A cloud of herbicide blew over the farm, misting horses, water troughs and hay as well as bystanders. The owner developed a dense rash all over her torso and arms and a migraine. A horse boarder substantiated Bergh’s observations and reported she could taste the chemical and it caused her mouth to tingle. Her eyes were red and sore after the spraying took place.
Watch a portion of Clare Bergh’s testimony at the Harwich Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Nov. 17.
A nearby property owner observed the spraying taking place in the resource area of Smelt Creek, a perennial stream running across the NSTAR easement-also a violation of state law. Complaints were reported to town departments and officials as well as a variety of state agencies. MDAR (MA Department of Agricultural Resources) –the state agency responsible for regulating NSTAR and all use of pesticides in MA- didn’t arrive to take test samples for three weeks!!! By that time there had been two major nor’easters on Cape Cod with heavy blowing rain- one lasting three days, and one with a hard driving rain lasting a day- between the spraying and the investigation by MDAR. “Taking swabs three weeks afterward is kind of a lame way to conduct an investigation,” Bergh said. “They should have been there a day or two afterward.”
Given the extreme delay in sampling combined with extreme weather conditions AND not testing for the major components of the herbicide mixture (only 2 ingredients out of 6), how can MDAR conclude that the horse farm was not sprayed and animals and people were not exposed?.
Some of this unfortunate occurrence could have been avoided if NSTAR had only followed its own Yearly Operational Plan (YOP) which requires notification of abutters and if MDAR were actually regulating the spraying they approved for private residential and municipal properties over the Cape’s only water supply. Currently there are no checks in place--no notification to abutters, no oversight by the state inspector, no field monitoring, no documentation of practices available to the public, no public reporting, no well monitoring-public or private. No accountability whatsoever. However the only realistic way to guarantee no exposure to this untested mixture of herbicides is to STOP using chemical controls. Better notification doesn’t spare the drinking water supply or the casual biker, dog walker, mushroom hunter, or the like hiking through municipal property from chemical exposures. Nay to the Spray!
Got weeds on your Rights of Way?? Goats to the rescue!
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has always approved the Eversource (formerly NSTAR) Yearly Operational Plan (YOP) for Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard despite serious and widespread objections from Cape residents and tourists. If you vacation on Cape Cod, you should know that the following towns have been targeted for herbicide spraying as part of the NSTAR/Eversource plan: Barnstable, Bourne, Chatham, Dennis, Eastham, Falmouth, Harwich, Mashpee, Orleans, Sandwich, Truro, Wellfleet, & Yarmouth. Many towns throughout the Commonwealth will be sprayed as well.
MDAR and the MA State Pesticide Bureau have simply never met their burden to approve the NSTAR/Eversource VMP and Yearly Operational Plans (YOP) and have failed to inspect and enforce the previous YOPs and the related state regulations. NSTAR/Eversource's YOP does NOT satisfy the requirements set forth in M.G.L. c.132 B and 333CMR 11.00 as it stated in its approval. But of even more immediate concern, there is evidence on day-one of implementing their 2013 and 2014 YOPs that NSTAR/Eversource operated outside of the law. NSTAR/Eversource admitted to spraying on Monday November 18, 2013 (and appears to have done so on subsequent days) when conditions did NOT meet label regulations (wind data) . M.G.L. c. 132 B Section 6A states: Section 6A. “No person shall use a registered pesticide in a manner that is inconsistent with its labeling or other restrictions imposed by the department”.
In the fall of 2014, NSTAR/Eversource contractors –without notice--sprayed residents and animals in Harwich even after the resident requested them to stop. They refused to tell the property owner what they had sprayed on the her property, person, and animals. The MDAR inspector did not sample the area for 3 weeks—and after two major storm events—and then reported the samples showed no evidence of overspray. In addition, the pesticide that was applied in the highest volume was never included in the analysis!
NSTAR/Eversource's spraying of vegetation with herbicides on the power line easements on Cape Cod in 2013 resumed after a brief moratorium with a publicity campaign that included a flagrant and public violation of the label instructions and statements from NSTAR/Eversource that the herbicides are "safe". An NSTAR/Eversource employee was shown on a local newspaper video handling the vegetation while it is still "tacky"- implying that this is a safe practice and pesticide exposure is harmless. The trust of Cape Codders has bent beyond the breaking point and the herbicide spraying needs to be abandoned in favor of cutting, mowing, or other non-chemical alternatives. These rights-of-way (ROWs) are already clear. The contractors going down the rights of way to spray could just as easily cut the small saplings down instead of spraying them with pesticides. Many communities have been willing to work with NSTAR/Eversource and the state agencies to develop a vegetation management plan that is suitable for residential, public properties and water supplies.
The utility NSTAR/Eversource continues to ignore the federal law on pesticides and label on the pesticide package or container with the accompanying instructions which are a key part of federal and state pesticide regulation. The label provides critical information about how to handle and safely use the pesticide product and avoid harm to human health and the environment. EPA has said that, “The label is the law.” This means that using a pesticide in a manner that is inconsistent with the use directions on the label is a violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and can result in enforcement actions to correct the violations. In addition NSTAR/Eversource employees and spokespersons frequently refer to the “safety” of the spraying practice. The claim by NSTAR/Eversource or anyone else describing the pesticides as safe is false and misleading. Pesticides are not regulated to be safe but are rather are registered (not approved)by the EPA if it determines that it will not generally cause "any unreasonable risk to man or the environment, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the use of the pesticide." This risk/benefit criteria does not ensure "safety". The Code of Federal Regulations Title 40 Protection of the Environment, Part 156 (5) Notes as "False or misleading statements" the following:
"Claims as to the safety of the pesticide or its ingredients, including statements such as “safe,” “nonpoisonous,” “noninjurious,” “harmless” or “nontoxic to humans and pets” with or without such a qualifying phrase as “when used as directed”; and (x) Non-numerical and/or comparative statements on the safety of the product, including but not limited to:(A) “Contains all natural ingredients”;(B) “Among the least toxic chemicals known”(C) “Pollution approved”. In 1996, Monsanto paid a $50,000 fine and agreed to "cease and desist" promoting glyphosate as "safe" after New York's Attorney General sued the company.
In a Cape Cod Times newspaper article it was reported that "NSTAR/Eversource officials say their vegetation management program accounts for less than 1 percent of the total herbicide use on the Cape (more than 2,000 gallons a year on 150 miles of rights-of way a few hundred feet wide), that it's safe, and that., combined with other measures, it's the most effective..." This is not the first time that NSTAR/Eversource officials have attempted to mislead their customers and the general public that their herbicide program is safe. Generally NSTAR/Eversource officials refer to the acute lethal dose and claim that the pesticide is less toxic then caffeine or nicotine; implying that the lethal dose of the pesticide is the only toxicological concern. Their arborist reports in public and private discussion that the herbicides are safe enough for his children to drink!
However, the pesticides sprayed on utility rights-of-way in back yards, gardens, children’s play sets, public hike and bike paths have not been proven safe. Krenite sprayed in the highest volume of all the herbicides is not allowed for residential use (even though NSTAR/Eversource sprays it on residential property) because it has not undergone thorough health testing as it was not anticipated to be used on residential properties. California and Arizona do not allow any use of the product in their state. The other herbicides used by NSTAR/Eversource have evidence of potential impacts on the nervous system and the endocrine system among other effects. Since the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) recently reported glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen”, the entire NSTAR/Eversource vegetation management scheme and the MDAR approval of the YOP should be given deeper scrutiny by another party before spraying commences. A high percentage of the ingredients in the 5 herbicide formulations sprayed by the utility in back yards and public spaces remain undisclosed as trade secrets but they are biologically active. Neither pesticide companies nor the EPA should be able to keep us in the dark about the identity and toxicity of these chemicals.
Approval of the YOP is DEPENDENT on it being implemented within the parameters of the law. If the subcontractor violates the law it follows that the YOP has been violated and the operation should be suspended. Because FIFRA, the MA Pesticide Control Act, and the YOP have been violated in several instances, it is reasonable to request the Attorney General who enforces state law to suspend the spraying operation and investigate the infractions.
NSTAR/Eversource’s current YOP is clearly not meeting its current VMP (Vegetation Management Plan) Goals and Objectives which demand that they “maintain the flexibility necessary to accommodate unique situations and the need for more appropriate techniques in accordance with new regulations, scientific advances, operational experience and/or comments from municipalities, state agencies and contractors” or that they “promote positive public relations with landowners, state and municipal officials, contractors, and the public”.
NSTAR/Eversource has disregarded the firmly expressed opposition of communities to chemical maintenance, but in addition their contractor is now putting these same communities at further risk by its reckless and illegal behavior on the rights-of-way. Firm and decisive action needs to be taken now to stop the spraying of pesticides and to discipline NSTAR/Eversource for label violations and their false and misleading statements to the public. We are requesting Attorney General Maura Healey to investigate these questionable practices that and to suspend this careless operation.
GreenCAPE, a Cape-based grassroots non-profit, released the results of a survey detailing the views of 22 candidates currently running for public office re: the herbicide spraying on private property by the public utility NSTAR. GreenCAPE submitted a brief questionnaire to candidates for most major races directly affecting Cape Cod and achieved a response rate of 68%. The survey revealed that 93% of respondents (14 out of 15)-if elected- would join the towns of Barnstable County in opposing NSTAR herbicide spraying of electric utility rights-of-way on private and municipal property. All 15 Cape towns have previously passed non-binding resolutions opposing the herbicide spraying.
GreenCAPE works with concerned citizens, organizations, and communities intent on preserving and protecting the Cape Cod and Islands region from the unintended consequences of pesticide use and other toxic chemicals in current commerce. It accomplishes this goal, in part, by educating the public and elected officials. The organization encourages nontoxic methods of pest control wherever feasible to reduce pollutants that can impact the environment and human health. GreenCAPE compiles and distributes information about pesticides and their toxicity profiles. Informative events on alternatives to pesticides, safer lawn care products/practices and healthier cleaning products are offered to the public free of charge. The mission of GreenCAPE rests on the premise that public awareness is the most effective of all the long-term forces for influencing the health of the Cape environment, residents, fisheries, and the local tourist economy. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization GreenCAPE does not endorse or contribute to candidates, but conducted the questionnaire and published the results for the benefit of GreenCAPE members and the public so they might be more fully informed when making decisions regarding candidates in the upcoming election.
2014 GreenCAPE Candidate Questionnaire-
1. If elected-would you join all 15 towns of Barnstable County in opposing the herbicide spraying of electric utility rights-of-way on private and municipal property above the Cape water supply?
Background: All 15 Cape Cod towns have passed resolutions requesting the public utility NSTAR to permanently abandon herbicides to clear vegetation on its rights-of-way (aka easements). No baseline water testing has been conducted and no water monitoring for this suite of chemicals is planned.
Answer: Yes No Explanation
2. If elected-would you promote and support the use of non-chemical alternatives for rights-of-way vegetation control that do not pose a threat to the water supply, tourist economy, fisheries, and the health of residents of the Cape and Islands?
Background: Several electric utilities-past and present-have successfully maintained control of vegetation on their Cape and Islands easements without employing herbicides. (By your “support”, we mean that, assuming other details of potential action are not inconsistent with your principles, you would sponsor, cosponsor, vote for, request, sign, testify in favor of, or otherwise publicly support the above and potential related legislation. For those seeking election to offices other than the state legislature, we also ask if you would support specific local action related to the issue. We invite you to elaborate on each answer, such as explaining the reasoning behind your position or any special insights you may have on the issue based on your personal background or experience.)
Answer: Yes No Explanation
3. Have you accepted- or would you accept- campaign contributions from NSTAR, Northeast Utilities, or any of its affiliates? If so, please specify the amount.
Answer: Yes No Explanation
4. Your additional comments related to this issue:
“Under the philosophy that now seems to guide our destinies, nothing must get in the way of the man with the spray gun.” …“It is the public that is being asked to assume the risks...the public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present road and it can only do so when in
full possession of the facts."