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.

One Comment

  • Well written! Why is there no outcry about this? After all the publicity, Cape Cod citizens are apparently still unconvinced that herbiCIDES are safe! Does anyone honestly still believe that our government agencies are protecting us when there are so many appalling examples of how they have not?

    Thanks for publishing this – perhaps many more reminders are needed before the spraying – AKA poisoning – begins again in the Fall.

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