Cape residents protest NSTAR’s use of herbicides

By David Abel
JANUARY 20, 2015

About two hours after NSTAR contractors spread a fine mist of chemicals to kill foliage beneath power lines near her farm on Cape Cod, Clare Bergh developed a migraine and began to notice a rash on her body. A friend on her property complained she could taste the chemicals in her mouth.

When Bergh testified about her experience shortly afterward to Harwich selectmen in October, the 52-year-old showed them pictures of red bumps all over her torso, arms, and legs.

“There was a disgusting, potent smell,” she said. “I don’t get rashes, unless I’m exposed to chemicals. It lasted three-and-a-half weeks.”

Bergh, neighbors, and local lawmakers have raised a raft of complaints and staged demonstrations in recent months to protest NSTAR’s resumption of spraying herbicides throughout Cape Cod after the company ended a four-year, self-imposed moratorium on the controversial method of controlling vegetation beneath its power lines.

NSTAR officials insist the state-sanctioned spraying is safe and say it is the most effective means of managing the growth of trees on their property, noting that overgrown vegetation is among the most common cause of electrical outages. They add that spraying is a common practice among utility companies around the country, and that it is regulated in Massachusetts by the state Department of Agricultural Resources.

To read full article and see the Boston Globe-produced video featuring interviews with NSTAR and POCCA officials, click HERE




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