Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sue Phelan, GreenCAPE to MDAR 12/3/2013

December 3, 2013
Michael McClean, MDAR
251 Causeway St, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02144

Mr. McClean-
Thank you for returning my call today reporting that NSTAR contractors were spraying in West Barnstable when the wind velocity was over the limit stated on the herbicide labels for Krenite and Escort (3-10 mph). See attached NOAA weather report. While I am relieved you contacted them and “suggested they do something else for the day”, I continue to have concerns over exposures to people or animals that happen to be in the area with no expectation that they will come upon a band of contractors spraying herbicides. They’ve been afforded no warning and there are no signs announcing the spraying before or after this operation to alert anyone to avoid the area.
There was no notice recent enough to be effective in forewarning residents of the area of West Barnstable to avoid this particular right of way which happens to betown-owned land and kettle ponds with an ancient way where many hike or walk their dogs. Regardless of whether a notification had gone out to towns and abutters back in August/September, it should have been re-issued to meet M.G.L. c. 132 B Section 6B (i.e. 21 days before spray and 48 hr newspaper notice). I reminded you of this in our phone conversation of Nov. 18  and you reported that re-notification would not be done. However, the statute states the obligation to notify towns and abutters specifically 21 days prior to the actual application of herbicides as well as 48 hours in the newspaper but the spraying did not commence until November 18.Please clarify by e-mail why there was no re-notification per the statute.
I also recall that during our conversation of Nov. 18, I inquired about the issue of supervision on the rights-of-way during spraying and you stated it was not possible for you or anyone else to be present to oversee the spraying. Over the last weeks, NSTAR contractors have sprayed on several days when wind conditions did not meet the label requirements. It is only happenstance that today’s violation was reported to me along with a videotape as it occurred. It’s not acceptable that citizens need to be ever vigilant to ensure the regulations are enforced--that’s the role of government. The NSTAR Yearly Operational Plan was approved by the MA Department of Agricultural Resources-the agency you work for which is supported with citizen tax dollars- and as Pesticide Inspector, Inspectional Services & Pest Mgt., and Enforcement for VMPs and YOPs, proper implementation, enforcement, or revocation of the YOP is your responsibility. The label violations relating to wind velocity –but possibly others-would likely not have occurred had an inspector been on site. Please make recommendations or adjustments to ensure this doesn’t continue.
Thank you-

Sue Phelan, GreenCAPE
P.O. Box 631
West Barnstable, MA 02668