Thursday, September 15, 2011

Toxic Chemicals Update ...

A reader requested an update on the NStar situation, so here goes: nothing has changed. NStar still intends to spray four herbicides under the power lines.

The good news? More people are realizing we are poisoning our environment. There was an article this week in Grist about glyphosate showing up in air and water. Another article in Mother Jones indicates glyphosate harms soil. And, WSNBC shared info on a large study showing pesticide residue leads to ADHD in children. (Glyphosate is sold retail as Roundup. Don't buy it!)

Also, good news for one hard-working environmentalist: Sandra Steingraber was awarded a $100,000 Heinz Award yesterday. Today, she donated this money to the fight against fracking. Hats off, Dr. Steingraber!

The bad news, here on Cape Cod? As I said, no movement from NStar despite the letters, banners, petitions. And, there is more local use of glyphosate to worry about … Did you hear the National Seashore plans to apply it to the phragmites at Herring Pond?

I called the Seashore yesterday to protest and spoke to Shelly Hall, Chief of Natural Resources, who said she understood my concerns. She said the project has been cleared with regional pest management, blah, blah, blah. They would use syringes, blah, blah, blah, and no surfactant, in a “highly controlled application.” They feel the threat to the ecosystem of having these reeds take over the ponds is not something the Seashore can permit. I asked, if there were no other way to get rid of phragmites, which I actually happen to like. “No, there is not,” she replied.

Actually, this information is not true. A machine exists to do the job, but the rental of this machine is expensive. (Source is Tracy Plaut, who used to live on Nantucket with husband Swede. "After we sued the town over the use of the herbicides, they brought in a piece of machinery that pulled them out at the root. It was more expensive which is why they wanted to do the chemicals in the 1st place, but effective. Swede said he doesn't remember who they rented the machinery from, but we know they didn't have to do it again for as long as we lived there.")

As if I were not upset enough as is, I read on the NRDC blog that President Obama and his staff have sided with the chemical industry and ordered the EPA to stand down in its effort to control the solvent TCE, a known carcinogen. I immediately wrote the White House to protest. The President’s decision represents a giant step backwards. I realize the EPA is under attack from the Tea Party, but having the White House throw such a curve ball must be upsetting to all who work on behalf of the environment.

Does this new development worry you? If so, what are you going to do about it? Are you inspired by Dr. Steingraber's donation?