APCC Calls for Alternatives to Eversource’s Use of Herbicide

PowerlinesBARNSTABLE – A local organization is calling on the state and Eversource Energy to take a different course of action when it comes to clearing vegetation along the utility’s power line easements.

In a letter sent to John Lebeaux, the state’s agricultural commissioner, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod expressed concerns to residents health and the environment, including drinking water supplies.

“What we are looking for is the state to work with Eversource to develop a program that would not involve herbicide sprays and would employ some other more environmentally friendly methods,” said Don Keeran, the assistant director of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod.

Eversource has always said the materials they use are safe for people and the environment.

“We use only herbicides approved by the state for environmentally sensitive areas and work closely with regulators to ensure we meet or exceed all of the requirements for this type of program,” said spokesman Mike Durand.

The letter was sent in response to Eversource Energy’s recent release of its 2016 yearly operational plan for vegetation management which identifies eight Cape Cod towns that are scheduled to be sprayed with herbicide. The towns include Barnstable, Bourne, Brewster, Dennis. Falmouth, Orleans, Sandwich and Yarmouth.

The association cited past work conducted by the Brewster Conservation Trust in 2013 and the Harwich Conservation Trust in 2014 to manually remove problematic trees and other vegetation under the utility’s rights-of-way as an alternative to the spraying and clearcutting.

Eversource said their program has been successful in the past.

“Integrated Vegetation Management programs such as ours, which are widely used across the state and across the country, have consistently proven to be the most effective way to maintain electric service reliability while also promoting low-growing native plant species that are compatible with utility rights-of-way,” said Durand.

Keeran said manual labor would be a more costly solution to clearing the vegetation, but one that makes more sense for the community and environment.

“We would ask the question, what price do you put on the health of our environment here on the Cape and our habitats and what price do you put on the health of our drinking supply,” he said. “Whatever the expense is it doesn’t match up to the benefits it would produce by protecting our environment and our human health resources.”

The letter also called into concern the use of Glyphosate which is an ingredient in the herbicides used by Eversource.

“Last year the World Health Organization determined that Glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen,” Keeran said. “So that reinforces our concerns about the use of the herbicides.”

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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