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Contractors such as Trees Inc. are spraying copious amounts of herbicide this spring throughout California on behalf of utility companies including PG&E;, the largest owner of utility pole and right-of-ways in the state.
PG&E;'s contractors are using a toxic mixture of several chemical formulations for control of annual, perennial and woody plants growing at the base of poles and within utility line right-of-ways (See our website for more information).
In some areas of the state, particularly northwest counties, PG&E; will not spray without advance notification and the consent of property owners. However, where poles are within right-of-ways belonging to the state, county or city, spraying is conducted without advance notification or posting to warn the public of the presence of toxic chemicals.
According to one source, poles displaying square aluminum tags and a separate 6 digit number are scheduled to be sprayed while poles displaying a circular aluminum tag are manually managed for vegetation. What equipment is on the pole is the determining factor. Apparently little community or environmental exposure has been considered when spray plans are made: Herbicides have been applied in heavily used trails and close to wells and streams.
Find out where spraying is planned in areas you use or where you live, work or go to school. For folks in Humboldt County contact Larry Rumensen of PG&E; at 707-577-1026. For others in California, try PG&E; at 1-800-743-5000 as a CATs member recently had success getting information (and a live person) that way. Trees Inc, PG&E;'s contractor, is another avenue to pursue and can be reached at 1-866-865-9617.
Ask to know where spraying is planned and demand that PG&E; stop this unnecessary use of chemicals. Call your city council member or county supervisor, depending on the location of spraying you are concerned about. Ask them to contact PG&E; to stop the spraying or, at a minimum, to post notification where herbicides are applied.
PG&E; and other utility companies have options, especially mechanical removal of vegetation, which is better for workers, neighbors, and the environment.
For more information, see: http://www.alternatives2toxics.org
Californians for Alternatives to Toxics
315 P Street, Eureka CA 95501