[Sust-mar] Toxic welcome gift to tourists in Newfoundland

Helen Jones helenjones555 at gmail.com
Tue Aug 27 09:48:06 EDT 2013

Newfoundland highways: now are ribbons of pesticide exposure?  Be very
careful not to pick blueberries under power lines also.


August 27, 2013
The St. John’s Telegram - Editorial

Chemical soup

It’s “do as I say, not as I do” time again. Our provincial government,
which has banned the use of many chemical pesticides for general use, is
once again launching a broad-ranging highway chemical spray program, one
that’s set to start on Monday.

The spray program will be using two vegetation chemicals, Garlon XRT and
Tordon 101, the second one of which is also known as Agent White.

The spraying will be covering a broad area, but the only way you’ll find
out about it is through small newspaper ads. Here are the areas involved so
far: on the divided parts of the Trans-Canada, heading west, from Witless
Bay to Whitbourne — on the eastern side, from Whitbourne to the Foxtrap
Access Road.

On the non-divided part, from the Argentia Access Road to Bellevue, and
then on from Bellevue to Goobies. On the Veterans Memorial Highway,
basically from the start of the highway to Riverhead. On Route 73 across
the New Harbour barrens, on Route 100 from the Trans-Canada to Dunville and
from Ship Harbour to Cuslett. There’s also a broad stretch of the Salmonier
Line, and then on to St. Mary’s.

Stay tuned for more small announcements about the breadth of future

The provincial Department of Transportation and Works hires an independent
contractor to do the spraying. The argument for spraying? That, in concert
with brush-cutting, herbicide spraying is the best way to provide clear
sightlines on the sides of highways, something that’s necessary for safety

They’re right about the safety — but there are plenty who would question
whether chemical spraying is the best route to take.

Tordon is a mixture of two active chemicals: picloram and
2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, better known as 2,4-D.

Spray opponents, like the Sierra Club, have said that 97 per cent of 2,4-D
applications eventually end up in ground water. Denmark and Norway have
banned its use. Others have pointed out that picloram is remarkably
long-lasting in the environment and that 2,4-D has been connected to
reproductive effects in humans and may be connected to cases of
non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

In this province, Tordon has been used for so long that it doesn’t even
need to go through the province’s environmental assessment program —
instead, the provincial government just quietly issues a permit to do the
work it wants done. And the roads are perhaps only a start. The province’s
energy giant, Nalcor, also plans to use chemical vegetation control along
its 1,100 kilometre transmission line across the island.

As it says in its own environmental documentation, “Nalcor Energy will
incorporate the transmission line into its integrated vegetation management
program for its transmission and distribution system, which uses several
methods including manual cutting as well as the selective use of herbicides
for long-term vegetation control. Certified crews will use herbicides in
accordance with Nalcor Energy’s current standard operating practices and
applicable regulations.”

In other documents, the company says “Nalcor will not use sterilants as a
means of vegetation control, but will rely on non-residual herbicides
(i.e., Tordon 101 with Sylgard 309 as a surfactant) and mechanical methods,
where practical.”

Environmental legislation means you might not be able to use them in your
yard, but it looks like herbicide spraying will be around for good long
time yet.

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