Dangers in ‘management’

This letter is to share information with people living in close proximity to transmission wire corridors.

Several months ago I received a letter from a company regarding “vegetation management” to clear the corridor. Attached was a pamphlet from National Grid. The information from both parties indicated that the “vegetation management” consisted of “… trimming branches, clearing … understory vegetation … removing trees, side pruning … removing tree limbs to produce a rolled back effect … etc.” All information led one to believe that vegetation would be mowed, chopped, sawed, bull-dozed.

A second letter stated the “vegetation management” consisted of using herbicides Tordon K and Arsenal. I first read the vague, benign data sheets from the manufacturer.

Given the track record and aspirations of chemical companies; I did not believe one single word of it.

The following is a summary of what other researchers have found:

Arsenal – imazapyr, a 28.79 percent active ingredient – listed for withdrawal from the market by the European Union because of high toxicity. Has 71.39 percent other unspecified “inert” ingredients. It inhibits enzymes affecting amino acids (the same ones we have) required for protein synthesis; causing cell death. Lab effects include: damage to kidneys, lungs, spleen, intestines; brain and thyroid cancers; increased tumors and cancers of adrenal glands. One breakdown product caused by exposure to sunlight is quinolinic acid. It irritates the eyes and the respiratory system; also neurotoxic causing nerve lesions similar to Huntington’s Chorea.

Tordon K picloram, also has inerts. Can cause damage to liver, kidney, spleen, bone tissue, blood, immune system, endocrine system. Cancer of liver, thyroid, kidney. Also releases toxic gases during decomposition. Other data finds toxicity five times greater than manufacturers’ data. Has a toxic history of mixed with other herbicides – Agent White and Agent Orange – used in Vietnam War. Many soldiers suffered serious debilitating chronic health effects.

Both of these substances:

Are environmental toxins; are cytotoxic to plants and animals; are highly subject to drift; cause extensive collateral damage aptly labeled “circle of death;” are very mobile in the soil; have toxic decomposition products; and have a very long half-life.

Are known to contaminate water, especially Tordon K. The data sheet states “do not allow run- off and spray to contaminate wells.” This chemical has a high potential to leach and to contaminate any body of water, including groundwater and wells. Tordon K is very soluble in water but does not readily degrade. It is therefore highly toxic to birds, fish, honey bees, and earthworms. The EPA evaluation of picloram states “eventual contamination of groundwater is virtually certain in areas where residues persist in the overlying soil. Once in groundwater, the chemical is unlikely to degrade even over a period of several years.” Consider runoff into streams that flow into our fresh water lakes.

Have synergistic effect when combined with other chemicals/herbicides. Since the “protected” unidentified “inert” ingredients are conveniently “proprietary” the true level of toxicity is masked. Scientific studies have uncovered how some “inert ingredients” create a toxic synergistic effect when combined with other chemicals, causing cell damage/death even at very diluted concentrations.

Many of these toxic inert substances are “hidden” on classification lists as “safe” and “of low priority for health effects.” To the contrary, some of these inerts have been found to be highly toxic compounds (carcinogenic and neurotoxic); such as naphthalene and chlorothalonil. Herbicides on the market today sold as “safe” or “low toxicity” are classified as such based on the active ingredient only, not the “inerts.”

What this means is that no one really knows the true composition of Tordon K, Arsenal, or any other chemical formulation containing “inert” substances currently used over multiple industries; or what their negative impact is on the environment, wildlife and humans.

Herbicides are being applied everywhere; and there is a huge industry financially vested in their use. Consequently, there are no incentives in place to fully research and expose the dangers of these chemical compounds.

My question is, why aren’t all the corridors maintained by mowing? I see others that have been maintained. The one by my home has not been mowed in over 30 years. Now, the answer for this neglect is the application of toxic substances? No thank you!

Cathy Snyder is a Dunkirk resident.