NSTAR had plans to spray 5 different herbicides on approximately 150 miles of transmission line rights-of-way as part of its yearly Vegetation Management Plan. The rights-of-way include private residential properties, private wells, wildlife habitat for endangered species, walking/biking paths as well as 78% of zones of contribution to public water supplies.
Cape Cod’s unique environment of sandy soil along with its sole-source aquifer demand the use of non-toxic methods to prevent pollution of our water supply. Non-chemical means of vegetation control, using mechanical cutting and hand-mowing, were used for decades.
NSTAR quietly began spraying herbicides between 2004 and 2007. Residents became aware of this practice when NSTAR filed a new Vegetation Management Plan in 2008. After months of public outcry, NSTAR agreed to a one year moratorium on spraying until the end of 2010.
Continued protest from residents, businesses, physicians, and resolutions in opposition from all 15 Cape Cod towns has led to another one-year moratorium, announced in March of this year 2011. Our goal is to keep the pressure on NSTAR to permanently discard the use of chemicals on Cape Cod by petitioning the CEO Tom May to agree to abandon this poison plan for Cape Cod..
For decades NSTAR and other public utilities successfully kept power lines clear with selective cutting and mowing. We (and NStar) simply do not know what the long-term effect of the proposed herbicides are or what effect those chemicals will have on future generations. Risking that the proposed chemicals will never be a problem is simply too much of a chance to take with Cape Cod’s sensitive environment and EPA-designated sole-source aquifer.
Though spraying herbicides over the only drinking water supply for Cape Cod may be technically “legal,” it is untenable, immoral, and not in sync with NSTAR’s purported “green commitment.” Some of the herbicides contain suspected endocrine disruptors that may be linked to breast cancer and other illnesses. Research tells us that exposure to even minute doses of certain endocrine disruptors can lead to very serious health impacts.
State Representative Cleon H. Turner is quoted as saying:
“…Though NSTAR insists that its plan is the most environmentally friendly approach to vegetation management, we must recognize that history has shown that today’s environmentally friendly chemicals have very often proven to be tomorrow’s health care disasters. While I appreciate the concern...for meadow type environments, we must remain true to the overarching public health issue, and first and foremost aim to protect the drinking water consumed by those on Cape Cod.”
All 15 Cape towns have signed resolutions in opposition to this polluting practice and thousands of citizens, including concerned physicians, and hundreds of local businesses have asked NSTAR to stop spraying. We are calling for NSTAR CEO Tom May to lead the company on a truly green path in PERMANENTLY eliminating the use of herbicides on Cape Cod.