Submitted by Sue Phelan, GreenCAPE
In addition to the excessive 10 year tree cutting operation already announced by Eversource which will potentially push back their utility ROW (right of way) margins even deeper into private property, most Yearly Operational Plans (YOPs) for every MA town have already been submitted by the utilities, railroads, and other public transportation (think MBTA-yes, their lines are sprayed…) to their state regulators. Among them is the Eversource (formerly NStar) YOP for the Cape and Islands which I was able to obtain only after lodging a complaint with the MA Attorney General’s Office. It seems that the Cape YOP-while formally announced in the Environmental Monitor as required- still wasn’t available anywhere the public could review it for 6 more days. The comment period deadline is based on the publication of the YOP itself, not the notice of its publication in the Environmental Monitor-reducing the number of days for comment. More importantly, how can the public comment on the YOP if it isn’t anywhere the public can read it???? The deadline for the Cape and Islands to comment is the close of business June 3. However, all YOPs will have a different deadline. Check to see your town’s YOP has been published and read what poisons the utility plans to spray. Send in your comments by the deadline noted and organize your neighbors to oppose this harmful practice. The health impacts of pesticides are often long-term and even multi-generational. Even pesticides no longer in use can continue to affect your personal health. This reinforces the need for a more precautionary approach to regulating pesticides and other industrial chemicals. Once released into the environment, chemicals can affect YOUR health and your family’s health for generations, either through persistence in the environment or long-term changes to your genetic code. So-submit your public comment but also organize, organize, organize!
GreenCAPE has already run the administrative remedy gauntlet and challenged Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (MDAR) earlier approvals of the ROW spraying on Cape, sent thousands of petitions, held protest rallies and obtained resolutions from every Cape town opposing the spraying. See earlier MBCC archives on ROW spraying. It’s clearly a rigged system for now –but not forever if we in MA step up and demand change. Please include the Attorney General’s Office in ANY comment or contact you have with MDAR-especially if you suspect you have been exposed to the herbicide spray. Previous investigations of harmful spray exposures have not been at all timely or thorough and it is critical to document any exposure immediately with MDAR, the Attorney General’s office and your physician or local emergency room. Documentation is key. The utility insists they use door tags or face-to-face notification of impending spraying but this is rarely the case. They are breaking the law if they don’t provide the door hanger or verbal notice to the property owner. Lack of notice followed by spraying should be reported to MDAR and the Attorney General’s (AGs) office immediately. MDAR is risking public safety by not enforcing the regulations.
Your comments on the information provided in the Eversource YOP for your town and the procedures should be addressed to:
Director of Rights-of-Way Programs
Massachusetts State Pesticide Bureau
251 Causeway Street, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114-2151
William Hayes, Senior Transmission Arborist
Eversource Energy, Eastern MA
One NSTAR Way, SE
Westwood, MA 02090-9230
Attorney General’s Office
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108-1518
NEW Eversource CEO
800 Boylston St. Ste. 1700
Boston, MA 02199-8006
Eversource will continue to spray backyards, schools, parks, gardens, play sets and aquifers as long as abutters throw their hands up and look the other way. Private deals with the utility will not spare you either. It’s delusional to think your air and water are separate from others. Abutters Working Together is the only solution. GreenCAPE has always offered to work as a point of contact for any abutters to organize against pollution of their land and water. Again we urge abutters who are serious about stopping the spraying all over Cape Cod and MA to contact us WELL BEFORE you see the spray crews. By then it may be too late. If you are a right of way (ROW) abutter, be sure to check your deed language NOW. Contact GreenCAPE and we’ll work with you on a realistic plan and a plan to help your neighbors so your ‘hood can be protected from harmful herbicide spraying. It only works by working together!
After checking your deed for utility easement language-POST your land “No trespassing, No cutting, No spraying or other application of herbicides without signed consent of the land owner!!” Then if the spray crews show up and cross the line without consent they may be liable for criminal trespass!! Videotape everything for possible future litigation. PROTEST on your property whenever they show up-preferably in concert with your neighbors. It’s your right to protest anything being done to your land that you don’t approve. Private property rights are still among the strongest traditions in this country. Make sure the press is invited! The outcome will be much better when more eyes are on it.
It took 79 days for me to obtain very incomplete spray records for the 2015 season from the Eversource electric utility regulator-the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) and I’ve had to re-petition MDAR for full disclosure. In an ideal world, the regulator would be motivated to protect citizens and work for them. The MDAR mission does not include public health protection but that shouldn’t deter us from actively committing to work for a safe and unpolluted environment for healthy families. Send those public comments and be willing to stop this chemical harassment! Your home, water, air, your children are AT RISK despite the availability of simpler and far safer vegetation management methods. Think “chemical kickbacks” and GET MAD.