NStar spraying and our curious lack of curiosity

NStar, persevering in its bad neighbor policy, has publicized a list of the next victims of its herbicide spraying of plants in its power lines right-of-way. All Cape towns have officially objected to this practice, along with all our legislators, but the virtually universal condemnation falls on deaf ears. The reason for objections are clear: why would you put poisonous chemicals in the groundwater if you have a perfectly reasonable alternative in traditional “mowing” beneath the wires?

NStar and the relevant state agency claim the herbicides are harmless, either won’t actually make it into the groundwater or won’t be harmful if they do. Groups such as a Pocca (Protect Our Cape Cod Aquifer) and GreenCape claim they will.

But hold on. Surely the water supply was tested in the towns sprayed last year. Doesn’t that settle the controversy about whether we have to worry about those chemicals or not?

What? No testing has been done? Apparently not, according to Sue Phelan of GreenCape and Paula Champagne, Health Director for Harwich, one of the towns sprayed last year.

Just because the herbicides haven’t migrated to wells yet is, I suppose, no guarantee that they won’t. But wouldn’t you think potential victims, the towns and the citizens of the towns, would be curious to know what, if anything, is going on with their drinking water?

Champagne says that the usual cheap household water tests would not pick up these chemicals. She says it’s a complicated (and expensive?) process and neither Harwich nor any other town has in fact done the testing. She suggested getting in touch with the Cape Cod Commission or other county-wide agency to see if they had done or planned to do anything.

I asked Wellfleet’s health agent: since our town told NStar not to spray, what do we intend to do about the company’s announced intention to spray anyway? Nothing that she knows about.

What’s happened to the resolve to protect the water supply?

Couldn’t we, shouldn’t we, get a court order to halt the spraying until somebody tests the effect on last year’s target towns?

That NStar is going ahead spraying more towns before there is an answer about the towns already sprayed seems irresponsible in the extreme. That towns and citizens are not more curious seems strange indeed.


Hiroshima and Pilgrim: rational fear

It’s debatable whether the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, horror though it was, was justifiable as the most life-sparing (at least for Americans) way of forcing Japan to surrender. But one thing is clear– that debut of nuclear power has proved a hard act to follow. The powers-that-be tried hard to erase that initial […]


Knowledge addiction–a problem needing a 12-step solution?

It’s a familiar scenario. Friends sitting around, question comes up: hey, what was the band in that song? What’s the name of the actress in that movie we saw the other day? and what else did she appear in? And someone is on it with the smart phone, producing relief within seconds…Ahhhh. The thirst for […]


Second-home owners in local government? Think twice.

The non-resident taxpayers are getting restless. “Part-time residents want more say in town,” headlines a recent “Cape Codder” story. “Second-home owners in Provincetown are calling for a bigger seat at the table when it comes to local government.” According to the president of the Truro NRT group at a July 5 meeting, “this is not […]


Against Civilization—really?

One of the fundamental ideas of our life, it seems to me—so fundamental that it is not so much an idea as a given, just the water we swim in—is that civilization is a good thing. Built into the definition of the word as usually employed are “ improved,” “refined,” “more highly developed.” Even “more […]


TOO BIG FOR OUR BRIDGES?

Forgotten in the celebrating of the 100th anniversary of the Cape Cod Canal is its contradictory effect on Cape life. The purpose of the canal was to save ships the time, money, and danger of going all the way around the treacherous Cape itself. Incidentally it turned us into an island of sorts, profoundly affecting […]


Illegal Immigration: a heart problem

It’s heartening to see all the letters shaming the protestors of immigrant children being received at Camp Edwards. Clearly, for many of us, humanity trumps nationality or legality, at least for children. Our nation’s illegal immigration problem is often posed as a leaky border problem. It may be more of a heart problem. It’s not […]


WHAT-WE’RE-COMING-TO-DEPT. “Spartacus”

Late in the evening, tired, our guard down, we plop in front of the TV looking for a little entertainment. We give “Deadwood” a try. People seem to like it. This version of a frontier town has virtually everyone issuing the f-bomb every other word (surely a contemporary overlay; was vocabulary so impoverished then?). And […]


Pilgrim Progress : the beat goes on

Pilgrim has withstood a virtual tsunami of bad news the last couple of years. It seems like just about everybody wants it to go away. All Cape and Vineyard towns, the governor, and our state and US representatives– all want to see it closed, for reasons that have been rehearsed almost daily in this paper. […]


Kline House: Class struggle in Truro

Truro’s protracted battle with the Klines continues. The latest chapter, reported on in the Times on July 6 is the $178,000 it has cost so far to enforce the law—that is, tear down this house declared illegal by the courts—and whether the town can afford to go on enforcing its own zoning. Christopher Lucy, former […]