Environmental Awareness

Letters of Protest from Cape Codders

NSTAR has begin spraying herbicides, and people are beginning to realize the dangers from first-hand experience:

From Claire Bergh, owner of Sea Horse Farm in Harwich:

SHF Nstar SeaHorseFarm
IMG_8454Photo taken by Claire Bergh, owner of Sea Horse Farm in Harwich – who said they proceeded to spray that whole grassy area when grass is not on their spray list. it was 15mph winds that day and rained soon after.

Letter from Mark Lynch:

Subject: NSTAR Mass Herbicide Treatment Between Old Harwich Brewster Road To and Into the Dennis Water District

Good Evening:

Thank you for your call today. First, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mark Lynch and my wife and I are the owners of land running from the Old Harwich Brewster Road in Harwich westerly to the Dennis Water District which encompasses continuous lands upon which NSTAR has an easement to maintain the utility lines. We have multiple addresses in the vicinity including 20 and 30 Lynch Lane as well as 94-106 Old Harwich Brewster Road, Harwich. In addition, I received a Bachelors in Geology from Duke University in 1987 and have spent my entire professional career as an Executive in the environmental industry nationwide; and consider myself technically and professionally versed regarding the subject matter contained herein.

Over the past 2 months, we received two notifications from Northeast Utilities’ (NSTAR)  intention to: a) work on the transmission lines (dated September 9, 2014), as well as  b) provide…”planned and scheduled vegetation maintenance work on the transmission right-of-way on…your property this year”.

The notice dated August 14, 2014 from Andrew Powers @ VCS (Vegetation Control Services, Inc as a sub to NSTAR and whose number is 978 249 5348) clearly stated …”The planned maintenance will involve the selective removal (spec emphasis) of targeted vegetation (spec emphasis) species, primarily tall growing trees (spec emphasis) within the ROW. The primary method of control (spec emphasis) will include manual cutting (spec emphasis) , selective mechanical mowing (spec emphasis) and the application of federally approved and state registered herbicides to control target vegetation (spec emphasis”).  The notice further defines an Integrated Vegetative Management Program (IVM) that clearly defines a 10′ zone on either side of the wires (Wire Zone) where “all  trees and brush are removed and native, low growing plant communities that have a mature height of 3′ or less are established”. In addition, Andrew Powers defines a “Border Zone” as the …”area ten feet from the edge of the wires at ground level to the ROW easement edge. In the border zone, incompatible trees and brush are removed and the native trees and shrubs that have a mature height of 15′ or less are preserved where possible”. While we have always maintained our preferred position to manually “cut” the ROW, we acknowledge NSTAR has an approved permit “with conditions” to spray. Today, I experienced the following in the presence of several other witnesses:

1.       A crew of approximately ~10 workers arrived on site @ ~ 9 am w/ no mechanical equipement whatsoever and widespread applied herbicide “shoulder-to-shoulder across the entire ROW from Harwich Brewster Road westerly across our property to the Dennis Water District with complete disregard to what was being sprayed or the limitations defined in Mr. Powers IVM defined work zone. The workers applied the non-specific herbicide with Stihl gas powered, back-pack blowers affixed with holding tanks for the herbicide. The material was sprayed from “work boot to work boot” across the entire width and length of the ROW. An AWD utility vehicle manned by a driver and containing ~16-20 @ 5 gallon jugs of chemicals re-filled/serviced the back-pack blowers frequently as the chemicals were aerosolized over the entire ROW.

2.       When I approached the crew, I notified the crew chief that he had just sprayed the entire resource area across the ROW bounded northerly by the Washburn Bog in Brewster (donated by the Lynch family) southerly across our properties along the Old H-B Road. Please refer to your files c. 2005 where both the Town of Harwich and Mass DEP agreed to the perennial stream designation of Smelt Creek that runs southerly from Washburn Bog and serves as the headwaters of the Swan River which begins at the Washburn Bog and runs southerly to the Atlantic Ocean. The worker referred to it as a “dry ditch” clearly indicating he was absolutely aware of its existence but was ignorant regarding the designation or definition of a perennial stream that goes dry periodically by its very definition. When asked if he changed the product he applied in this resource area he went “silent” confirming they improperly applied the same product they were using easterly as they applied 100′ on either side of Smelt Creek. My wife, a veterinarian and dedicated volunteer of both HCT and Mass Audubon’s WBWS, witnessed the same.

3.       I subsequently called Coleman Geary with NSTAR @ 617-212-1711 regarding the work. He sounded genuinely concerned and said he would call the “arborist” immediately and stop the mass herbicide application and discuss the work just done in the resource area surrounding Smelt Creek. As I walked back to the powerline, I witnessed the crew had resumed full, widespread, “shoulder to shoulder” treatment westerly continuing across my lands in front of Sea Horse Farms abutting the easement to the north. The aerosolized chemicals could be “tasted” in the air and I was in fact misted by the overspray (additional witness/rough border @ Sea Horse Farm (SHF) is also available to validate this claim upon request). I also observed waves of chemical overspray misting heavily into the horse paddocks @ SHF and coating the grazing horses. At that time, I assumed Coleman was unable to reach his crew, and my wife and I contacted the Town of Harwich Conservation and Public Health Departments, respectively.

4.       I did not observe the crew wearing any PPE: no gloves, eye wear, respirators or even dusk masks. The driver of the ATV had no PPE on, including no helmet or seat belt while riding at an excessive rate of speed across various properties along the easement. The field crew otherwise did have hats, boots and vests.

5.       As the crew crossed westerly off my property onto the abutting Dennis Water District, we also made a call to Peter McDowell, Dennis Town Selectman, who was going to contact his various departments that NSTAR was on Town property spraying in the same fashion in a high density, potable water well field area.   

Respectfully Submitted,

Mark Lynch
305 794 9272

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