Cape Cod for a Truly Green NSTAR

founded July 2010

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    Read the 2013 Nstar Yearly Operating Plan and pesticide labels at kenersongroup.com/yop/capecod2013/nstar/
    Although we are talking about herbicides to kill foliage, the term pesticide is used interchangeably to describe the chemicals. Note that the list of pesticides is incomplete, although legal according to Massachusetts laws. The law does not require chemicals like surfactants and inerts that enable the spray to be named. Yet, they are a big part of the chemical mixture and some have been called into question by health professionals.

  • According to its website and advertising, NSTAR claims to be a GREEN company. For decades, NSTAR used only non-chemical methods for controlling vegetation along power lines--using mechanical cutting and mowing exclusively. Yet, its current plan is to use herbicides along rights-of-way on Cape Cod. Unfortunately, it is legal, but it is not smart for a number of reasons. WE SAY NAY TO THE SPRAY! VIEW/DOWNLOAD THE 2013 FACTSHEET.

  • Health Professionals have registered their opposition to spraying chemicals, but NSTAR refuses to discuss the HEALTH issues because the chemicals are EPA approved. Does that make these toxic persistent chemicals safe? Read/download Dr. Richard Clapps letter to MDAR. (opens in pdf.)

  • In 2011 and 2013, all 15 Cape towns signed resolutions to NSTAR requesting non-chemical means of defoliating. This should have been a serious message to Nstar and MDAR. Read the Orleans Resolution in the next column.

  • Beyond Pesticides makes NSTAR's use of pesticides its Daily News Blog on August 22, 2013. Read Utility Plans to Spray Rights of Way Despite Local Opposition

  • August 9, 2013. In the Life on the Hill column of the Barnstable Patriot, Rep. Brian Mannal wrote:
    Keep an eye on NStar's herbicide plan By Rep. Brian Mannal,
    Brian.Mannal@MAHouse.gov

    Last week, NStar held a press conference to announce that it plans to resume using herbicides to clear vegetation below power lines on Cape Cod next month (after a four-year self-imposed moratorium). I was not invited to the press conference, nor was any other member of the Cape's legislative delegation. Of course, that didn't stop me from attending the event. At the end of NStar's presentation, I asked the presenters a simple question: How many gallons of herbicides does NStar plans to use on Cape Cod? I was disappointed when NStar officials could not answer my question, which prompted me to look further into the company's plans.

    Under Massachusetts law, NStar must draft and submit a Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) to the Department of Agricultural Resources in order to use herbicides and pesticides to control vegetation and maintain Rights-of Ways, and the Commonwealth is required to publish said plan for public comment. I have reviewed NStar's VMP and strongly encourage the citizens of Barnstable to visit the Department of Agricultural Resources' website for the purpose of doing the same. NStar's Vegetation Management Plan can be located at: www.mass.gov/eea/docs/agr/pesticides/rightofway/vmp/nstar-vmp2013-2017feb-draft.pdf

    I hope you will join me in making your thoughts about NStar's VMP known to the State, and encourage you to send your written comments to the Department of Agricultural Resources at the following address: Rights-Of-Way Program, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, 251 Causeway St., Suite 500, Boston, Massachusetts 02114-2151. Contact: 617-722-2582

  • February 10, 2011. Cape Cod Times publishes an opinion piece by Dr. Kristine Soly "Chemicals are Stealing Childhood."
    Excerpt: "...If you agree to let NStar, or anyone else, spray hormone-mimicking chemicals into our environment (because cutting the foliage down takes too much time?), this is what you're signing on for. Not only will it poison the water and soil we all must use, but it will so significantly affect the health and well-being of our children that they will no longer be children, and the results will be irreversible. I think this is a terrible tragedy. To prevent it requires that we exercise the precautionary principle of not using a substance till it is proved safe, rather than using something till it is proved dangerous. Will this be an inconvenience for NStar? Apparently. Will it cost more not to spray these chemicals? Perhaps. Do our children's lives and health matter enough to restrain NStar from spraying? I guess we'll see!..."

    Read the entire article on the GreenCAPE blog.

  • The Ad-Hoc Committee on Risk Analysis Vegetation Managment focuses on homeowners use of Roundup. It is apples and oranges to compare--NSTAR is spraying on public and private land that does not belong to it, with little regard shown in the past for wells, bodies of water, and backyards.

    February 9, 2011. Editorial in Harwich Oracle calls Ad-Hoc committee "A Disappointment" "...It is a case of a powerful utility potentially enabling poisons to infiltrate drinking wells and watersheds so it can save a few bucks on hand-cutting."

    February 8, 2011 -- Former committee members issue a press release: Citizen Stakeholders Quit Pesticide Committee, They charge that the process will not protect public health. Read the entire press release on the GreenCAPE blog.

    February 8, 2011 -- Ad-Hoc Committee on Risk Analysis Vegetation Managment releases final report: Nstar is acting within the law. Well, we already knew that the MDAR and EPA loved Roundup! It's the health questions that are the issue, and there were no health professionals on the committee. Read the report and other information at barnstablecounty.org and follow the links.

    February 7, 2011 -- Sue Phelan of GreenCAPE resigns from the Ad-Hoc Committee in Protest.... "It was my intention, upon accepting your invitation to a seat at this table, to enjoin the discussion in a good faith effort to review the known and unknown about herbicide use throughout Cape Cod. The vast majority of time was allotted to NSTAR and state pesticide regulators which, in the end, amounted to a review of regulations and modeling based on soils not characteristic of most of the Cape. This is not the risk analysis the committee was tasked with. The discussion related to human health impacts of herbicides was nonexistent -despite having provided the members a plethora of evidence from current peer-reviewed journals and letters from physicians and researchers. The superficial nature of the proceedings was disappointing at best and procedural flaws and voting irregularities too numerous to mention... " Other members of the committee also resigned in protest.

    Read the entire letter to Chair Sheila Lyons on the GreenCAPE blog at the end of the group statement. greencape.org/wordpress/?p=229

    The following organizations signed on to SAYNAY in 2010:
    Barnstable Unitarian Church Social Justice Committee
    Clean Water Action
    Cape Cod Organic Gardeners
    Concerned Citizens Against Herbicide Use on Cape Cod
    Environment Massachusetts
    GreenCAPE
    MASSPIRG
    Mass. Breast Cancer Coalition
    Pegasus Foundation
    Sierra Club, Cape Cod Chapter
    Toxics Action Center

2010 Summary of Facts With Footnotes

Between 2004 and 2007, NSTAR began spraying pesticides on Cape Cod along rights-of-way. Residents on Cape Cod learned of these pesticide plans when NSTAR filed a new Vegetation Management Plan in 2008. Following months of public outcry and delay, NSTAR agreed to a moratorium on herbicide spraying through the end of 2010. In the spring of 2011 they intend to begin spraying once again. These herbicides threaten public health, the environment and precious drinking water resources on Cape Cod. We oppose pesticide use along rights-of-way on Cape Cod, and ask that NSTAR commit to a no-spray, herbicide-free policy on Cape Cod rights-of-way for the following reasons:

In general, herbicides are harmful to living organisms. Herbicides, like all pesticides, are designed to kill, and they can harm more than just the intended target. NSTAR plans to use glyphosate (Accord), imazapyr (Arsenal), metsulfuron methyl (Escort), triclopyr (Garlon 4), and fosamine ammonium (Krenite). According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), glyphosate can cause kidney damage and reproductive disorders in humans and is an endocrine disruptor. (2) Glyphosate is one of the most widely used pesticides in the country, and the New York Times reported that its overuse is leading to the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds, forcing farmers to go back to plowing and other mechanical methods of weed control, or to even more toxic pesticides. (3)
A study in 1999 by the American Cancer Society linked glyphosate exposure to non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.(4)

• The herbicides NSTAR proposes for use on Cape Cod can migrate off rights-of-way, seeping into groundwater and surface water and exposing humans and aquatic organisms to toxic chemicals. A study of Metsulfuron Methyl (ESCORT) on rights-of-way stated that the chemical is highly mobile in the environment and has the potential to contaminate groundwater. Cape Cod is an EPA-designated sole source aquifer, meaning the aquifer is the only source of drinking water for Cape Cod and if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health. (6) Sandy soils across the Cape leave groundwater particularly vulnerable to contamination. Cape Cod is very windy and documented wind velocities rarely fall within label restrictions, meaning that herbicides will drift.

• Just one example of the risks with Escort, Wildlife Effects
Based on laboratory and field studies, metsulfuron-methyl is classified as practically non-toxic to fish, birds, and bees on a short term (acute) basis. Metsulfuron-methyl is not expected to bioaccumulate in mammals. [practically non-toxic--not expected to accumulate--are you catching our drift?]

Non-toxic alternatives to weed control on rights-of-way already exist and are readily available. For decades before 2004, NSTAR dealt effectively with weeds on Cape Cod through selective hand-cutting and mowing. We are asking NSTAR to return to those safer, non-chemical methods of weed control. We recognize that herbicide treatment can be less expensive in the short-term, however, the use of herbicides to control weed growth along rights-of-way on Cape Cod is an unnecessary risk for public health and the environment. The short-term financial benefits are far outweighed by the long-term liability for risks posed to precious drinking water, the health of Cape Cod communities, and the safety of workers.

•We request that NSTAR abandon its current plan to use herbicides along rights-of-way on Cape Cod and commit to a no-spray, pesticide-free policy of vegetation management on Cape Cod and the Islands.


(1) /www.mass.gov/agr/pesticides/rightofway/vmp/NSTAR-VMP-2008-2012.pdf, p. 7
(2) www.epa.gov/safewater/contaminants/basicinformation/glyphosate.html#three (3)www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/business/energyenvironment/04wed.html?pagewanted=all
(4) A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Exposure to Pesticides, American Cancer Society, 1999. www.beyondpesticides.org/documents/acs-nhlymphoma-1999.pdf (5) www.oregon.gov/ODF/privateforests/docs/metsulfuronmethyl.pdf, Oregon State University.
(6) www.epa.gov/ne/eco/drinkwater/solecape.html

• read some of the public comments in the media saynaypublicity.html


Some Questions and Answers

Q. If NSTAR is forced to stop using these herbicides, does that mean homeowners have to stop also?

A. While we certainly wish everyone would refrain from using toxic persistent pesticides on their property, NSTAR is spraying on public and private rights of way, not on land that it owns. Plus the chemicals Nstar uses are far stronger than those sold to homeowners.

Q. Why is the Farm Bureau involved in this issue?

A. We really don't know. While more people are discovering the health benefits of organic food, farmers seem to have organized to support the NSTAR spraying. If you know any farmers who will SAY NAY TO THE SPRAY, please let us know!

Resolution by the Town of Eastham to NSTAR

RESOLUTION

The Town of Eastham requests that NSTAR abandon its current plan to use herbicides along rights-of-way on Cape Cod and commit to a NO-SPRAY, PESTICIDE-FREE Policy of vegetation management on Cape Cod and the Islands.

It is our understanding that between 2004 and 2007, NSTAR began spraying pesticides on Cape Cod along rights-of-way. Residents on Cape Cod learned of these pesticide plans when NSTAR filed a new Vegetation Management Plan in 2008. Following months of public outcry and delay, NSTAR agreed to a moratorium on herbicide spraying through the end of 2010.

It is our understanding that in 2011 they intend to begin spraying once again. These herbicides threaten public health, the environment and precious drinking water resources on Cape Cod. We, the undersigned town, oppose pesticide use along rights-of-way on Cape Cod, and ask that NSTAR commit to a no-spray, herbicide-free policy on Cape Cod rights-of-way for the following reasons:
In general, herbicides are harmful to living organisms;
• The herbicides NSTAR proposes for use on Cape Cod can migrate off rights-of-way, seeping into groundwater and surface water and potentially expose humans and aquatic organisms to toxic chemicals;
State policy lags far behind current science in the regulation of herbicides. We urge state policy making to review current herbicide regulations in light of latest scientific information.

We recognize that herbicide treatment can be less expensive in the short-term; however, the use of herbicides to control vegetation growth along rights-of-way on Cape Cod is an unnecessary risk for public health and the environment. The short-term financial benefits are far outweighed by the long-term liability for risks posed to precious drinking water, the health of Cape Cod communities, and the safety of workers.

We request, by virtue of this RESOLUTION, that NSTAR abandon its current plan to use herbicides along rights-of-way on Cape Cod and commit to a no-spray, pesticide-free policy of vegetation management on Cape Cod and the Islands.

Thank you for your consideration of this Resolution and for your interest in the Town of Eastham.

Linda S. Burt, Chair    Aimee J. Eckman, Vice-Chair    Martin F. McDonald, Clerk

Wallace F. Adams, II    John F. Knight    BOARD OF SELECTMEN

Download the Eastham resolution in pdf.

Publicity on the Campaign

•Cape Cod Times, Brent Harold Editorial, October 5, 2010.
"Will Prune-Ins Turn to Sit-ins?"
capecodonline.com

Weed-killing Chemicals Worry Cape Residents
WBUR, August 16, 2010

• The Cape Codder Newspaper, August 6, 2010 www.wickedlocal.com/chatham/news/x588238779/Watchdogs
Locals Track NSTAR Violations.

• WBZ 38: Cape Residents upset with Nstar chemical spraying, news article and video
wbztv.com/local/nstar.chemical.spraying.2.1855857.html

• Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog with comments 8/12/2010
www.beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/?p=4071#comments

• Nstar stock page at finance.yahoo.com finance.yahoo.com/q?s=NST headline from Boston Business Journal:
Cape Businesses Oppose Nstar Spraying boston.bizjournals.com/boston/stories/2010/08/09/daily19.html?ana=yfcpc

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