ALERT: PG&E Spraying Herbicides Throughout California

NEWS--For immediate release
Contact--Californians for Alternatives to Toxics

July 10, 2010

Despite the successful campaign by residents of rural Humboldt County to convince PG&E to stop spraying herbicides around power poles, the giant utility still is drenching about a million of the poles with a variety of chemicals elsewhere in its service area.

According to information obtained by Californians for Alternatives to Toxics (CATs) from PG&E officials, the electricity company sprays herbicides to clear weeds and brush away for up to 40% of its 2.5 million power poles. Its contractors also apply herbicides to clear high-voltage
transmission corridors and to treat stumps on residential properties within 87,000 miles of electrical lines.

Although property owners must give signed authorization in advance for herbicide application, residents throughout northern California have reported to CATs on numerous occasions that PG&E or its contractors have sprayed--unannounced--near homes, schools and water resources.

Most recently, a Freshwater resident told CATS of unauthorized tree-cutting and stump-spraying by a PG&E contractor next to a spring on her property that supplies drinking water to her home. The herbicide was Garlon 4, whose active ingredient, triclopyr, has toxic health and
environmental effects and can move through soil to contaminate ground and surface water.

CATs has complained that PG&E does not have a transparent means of informing the public about where it plans to spray or what it will use. It also apparently has no database of sensitive areas where it should avoid applying herbicides even when authorized by a landowner.

PG&E is required by state and federal regulators to keep vegetation away from poles and transmission lines to reduce the threat of fire from sparks. Herbicides are used to keep costs down, although other non-toxic means of vegetation control can achieve the purpose.



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