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 spraying.
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 reasons.
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.