Friday, August 21, 2009

Call to Action! Silent Spring Redux?

Take a good look at the vegetation, growing at Wellfleet’s border with the National Seashore. Many of you, former guests, who walked the path to Dyer Pond, passed under the natural arch created by this tree and saw the vegetation with their own eyes. In my opinion, removal with power machines should not be difficult. Unfortunately, Nstar has chosen a different method. It intends to spray at least four herbicides beneath the power lines in Wellfleet and neighboring Eastham to remove the brush. I think spraying toxic chemicals in the vicinity of homes is a bad idea in general and even worse in a town with sandy soil and private wells. The chemicals will seep into our water supply.

Eastham has already mobilized. The most recent meeting between the Eastham Selectmen, Nstar, and Concerned Citizens Against Herbicide Use on Cape Cod ( took place August 19. The spraying was to begin August 17. August 12, Senator Rob O’ Leary and Rep. Sarah Peake succeeded in obtaining a 30-day delay. Jared Collins reported this morning that at “the Eastham town meeting, the Selectmen decided, in response to mounting concerns, to seek a means to ban herbicide-pesticide use town-wide.” He left a petition at Hatch’s fruit/veggie stand, but Wellfleet needs to organize, too, on its own, and quickly. (Jared and other concerned citizens of Eastham will be interviewed on WOMR’s Organic Thinking, to air Fri-Sun 8 pm.)

Wellfleet Health Agent Hillary Greenberg suggests sending her an email, expressing concern, copied to the Selectmen and woman ( I intend to also write a separate letter to the Selectmen/woman. To read more about the meeting August 19 and the chemicals involved go to Green Cape, which has collected some excellent material.

From my research: Federal law requires that utility companies remove brush beneath power lines. People complained about the machinery/noise in the past. Nstar decided to use chemicals.

The Wellfleet Health Agent provided Nstar with information on abutters’ wells so the homeowners could be notified. There’s a good chance the chemicals will also get into the drinking water of numerous other Wellfleet residents since we share a sole source aquifer. Not to mention the unforeseen results of having toxic chemicals in local dust, etc. It is shocking in this day and age, with the information out there about body burden and the known consequences of chemical use, that we should be faced with Nstar choosing chemicals over mechanical removal of brush.

Selectman Dale Donovan responded to my copied email: “Unfortunately, the spokesman for the State Agricultural Department, Scott Soares, raised the crucial argument in this situation when he asked, ‘Why just N-Star?’ We are asking the state to prevent something that the towns do not. The chemicals involved (and a host of others) are readily available at stores and regularly used by an unknown number of people on a regular basis. I am hoping that we can move this argument to the Board of Health and ask them to provide regulations that will halt all use of potentially damaging herbicides, pesticides, and nitrogen-loading fertilizers. Your help and that of others concerned can be important in having our Board of Health take action.”

So I will write a letter to the Board of Health as well. I would be happy to see local stores remove these products from their shelves.

Everyone take action NOW! There is no time to waste. Exposure to chemicals can increase your risk of getting cancer. If you are a resident of Wellfleet, mention living here year-round. If you visit in the summer, explain how you would prefer to stay in a chem-free town. If you are a non-resident homeowner, let the Board of Health know you care about this issue as much as the residents do.

Wellfleet is a special green place. Let’s keep it that way!