Large Amounts of Herbicide in Your Backyard?

Driven along Whitfield Road just outside of town limits lately? If so, you’ve probably noticed the large swath of rusty brown dead trees under the powerlines. You don’t have to drive outside of Town, however, to see that Duke Energy has apparently been getting rid of trees underneath powerlines by use of herbicides. According to current federal law trees must be kept clear of transmission lines, but how these power companies choose to keep the trees clear is a matter of concern. In certain sections of Chapel Hill’s Parkside neighborhood, in particular, rusty brown dead trees are within feet of people’s homes. What kind of herbicide is being used? How much? Is it harmful to humans and animals? What are the stormwater runoff implications? I know the Town is very careful in its own use of weed control and herbicides and we have strict guidelines that we use. What is Duke Energy doing on their easements within town limits? How often must they use the herbicide?

According to the Duke Energy website, “In the Carolinas, herbicide treatments are performed on vegetation when it is still very small, such as after the rights of way has been mowed and the root systems of the brush have had a chance to resprout. A follow-up treatment is applied in order to control any of the brush that might have been missed on the initial treatment. This will allow the compatible vegetation to effectively grow in the rights of way. Herbicide treatments are applied across the width of the rights of way. Tree pruning occurs on trees along the sides. Any mature trees found within the rights of way are also either removed or pruned.” Herbicide is being placed on trees that are several feet tall all along the right of way on the outside and within, mature and small. Take a look for yourself. Drive along Weaver Dairy Extension and look at the swath of trees under the powerlines midway along the road. The website also lists a myriad of herbicides they use claiming they are environmentally friendly.

The town did address a citizen petition back in 2002 with the issue of herbicides and easements. Duke Energy’s Scott Gardner emailed the Town with the following:

Regarding the issue of prohibiting the use of herbicides in utility easements, we believe the town has the right to prohibit the use of herbicides on town property if they so desire, but would be pre-empting State law to attempt to prohibit the use of herbicides on private property in Chapel Hill. Our annual mailing to customers informing them of our use of herbicides and their right to request that none be used on their property is in compliance with State law and has been approved by the NC Pesticide Board.”

A phone call in to Duke Energy today had the following result: I was directed to the website and was informed of their FAQ section where decisions were whether to prune or use herbicide (referenced above). The woman (Ms. Jackson) stated that mature trees are probably succumbing to beetles, etc. because the herbicide would not kill such large trees. (Please drive along Weaver Dairy and look for yourself. This is no beetle infestation.) I asked her if I had the right to tell Duke Energy not to place herbicide near my home, and she said “no” I did not have that right. I thanked her for helping me to the extent that she could.

I have personally not received an annual mailing from Duke Energy, but maybe they don’t do those anymore due to a beefed up customer service website. My opinion: the use of large amounts of herbicide by Duke Energy near homes, (it must be a lot of it to kill such large trees!) is a questionable practice worth exploring further. I’m sure they have their own reasons. Placing herbicides may be their right, but it is not right to potentially negatively affect the health of our citizens. What impact does this herbicide have on our water quality and what other negative health effects are possible for animals or humans living near the treatments? I also want to make sure they’re discouraged from killing off large trees with herbicide—especially on the outsides of their easement—because it surely must take a greater quantity or concentration. They should live up to what they put on their website. Stay tuned.

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48 responses to “Large Amounts of Herbicide in Your Backyard?

  1. I recommend that you photograph the areas you are discussing to document, particularly if they are violating their own rules regarding herbicide use on larger plants. Duke may be paying a contractor to brushcut and the contractor is taking the lazy way out and applying herbicide. I am not a lawyer and I have not seen their contract, but they may not be “performing” as required in their contract.

    Regardless of whether homeowners with easements have a current legal right to request that herbicide be used or not, it would seem prudent to at least request annually in writing that herbicides not be used or that you be given notice when and what type of herbicides will be used. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that if Duke Energy ignores that request and something bad happens, then they would be exposing themselves to liability. I would send the letters via certified mail with return receipt.

  2. I have pictures. I am not able to load them onto this website yet. I have already sent the pictures to Town Staff and they are presenting me with more information soon. Since you’re interested, I’ll email you the pictures I took and hopefully I’ll be able to get these up on the website. They load, but load too large and too slowly. Thanks for your other advice, too…

  3. Saw the pics and they are exactly what I was thinking you should document! They show the large plants (violating their own policy) and they show that more than one species were killed (disproving the beetle theory). With adjacent healthy plants and the correspondence to the easement, the only logical conclusion is that something like a herbicide killed them.

    I would ask what date and what herbicide was used and in what concentration, just to document it. They may have a right to use herbicide, but I see no reason why they would be allowed to keep that information private.

    When we were in Maine recently, I noticed in public and private locations that there were paper markers disclosing that chemicals were used. We should require the same here.

    If Duke refuses to disclose, then send a letter to the NC AG Consumer Affairs office requesting disclosure. The office won’t typically intervene, but the oversight potential usually compels companies to behave. You could also send the pictures and a copy of Duke Energy’s policies.

    The town might be able to pass disclosure and public posting requirements even if they can’t limit spraying in the circumstances you described.

  4. I’m all over it thanks Mark! I got an email this afternoon from Roger and they are working on it. I will post when I know. It seems like they would need a LOT of that herbicide in order to kill off large trees like that, and as you can see from the pics, these are trees close to homes. I’m wondering if they or their subcontractors have taken the easy way out by spraying and not cutting/pruning where they should, and are unnecessarily exposing our residents to a possibly harmful substance.

  5. Would Duke Power’s choice to kill or remove trees rather than prune them be at odds with the Town’s tree protection ordinance?

  6. By the way, something is amiss with the time-stamping! It is now 5:17 p.m. and I wrote my previous post only a minute before…

  7. Federal law requires that trees be removed under powerlines by the power companies, because of previous citywide blackouts and hazards associated with falling limbs on power lines and electrocution of people touching fallen powerlines. Clearly if the Town dictated that no trees may be removed under powerlines (and they can’t or won’t do that) there would be a significant risk to public safety. I don’t think that’s in the Town’s best interest. I think it is in the best interest of the Town that whatever method they employ to remove the trees is done with the protection of citizens’ health, safety and welfare.

  8. Del, I asked the same question about 5 years ago when Duke was going hog wild removing trees on our side of Town. The answer I got then is Federal law trumped our ordinances. I’d love to see a revised review of that statement.

    Laurin, about a month ago I noticed the same pattern along the power line running North & South abutting the Eastern edge of the YMCA’s property ( http://www.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=ymca+chapel+hill+nc&ie=UTF8&ll=35.933601,-79.055032&spn=0.005178,0.008808&t=h&z=17&om=1 )

    Somewhat troubling in general, moreso considering the close proximity of the Y and the schools.

  9. Oh, and for a further discussion, you might want to Google the Town minutes from about 4 years ago. A number of Sunrise Rd. folks were upset that Duke was herbiciding their rights-of-way between their homes and Carol Woods.

    Lots of talk about sorting the communications between residents, Duke and the Town but not much came of it.

  10. Question: Does federal law dictate that the power company gets to choose the method? It’s possible that the town could say “You may clear the trees per federal law, but this is how you must do it in CH: Brushcut to within x inches of the ground, apply these types of herbicide in these concentrations, notify the residents x days before, and post signs for x days after.”

  11. Good questions MarkP and I don’t intend to let this issue rest despite its apparent “googleable” history. I have Town staff giving me more information, and I’ll update as soon as I get it. Citing a recent googleable history and the fact that nothing came of it is not an adequate staff response and I hope I don’t see it and don’t think I will, but we’ll see. We had a council meeting tonight and staff was busy for that, so tomorrow I should have more information or at least by the next day.

  12. Laurin, I wasn’t comfortable with answer years ago but I also wouldn’t claim it was a complete one. I look forward to seeing what the reality is here.

  13. Driving along Whitfield road the other day, I saw a big swath of 10+ (maybe 15+) foot pine trees killed in the right of way. There were many trees that tall, not just a few.

    Ever seen a single dried out christmas tree burn? It becomes a huge fireball. It seems to me that that area on Whitfield is a fire waiting to happen. One cigarette hits those with the drought conditions and it wouldn’t be pretty. Duke’s contractor should have cut those down.

    M

  14. PS – Whitfield Road is not in Chapel Hill. Orange County might want to look into similar constraints if Duke isn’t going to police its contractors.

  15. Great point! Mark as usual. With a friend I estimated the tallest trees that were killed with herbicide in Chapel Hill in the easements to be at least 20 feet tall! As you know, I had that experience not long ago in the easement behind my house where a fire started in the pine trees (and they were alive!). I was shocked at how quickly that fire moved, and how indiscriminately. Ever since that experience I have been more nervous than ever about when and if a fire breaks out in town given the dry conditions, winds, etc. I hate to say but I’m still waiting for staff information right now about the herbicide treatments, but I know they’re working on it. It seems obvious that Duke Energy should have treated these pines earlier and/or they should simply cut them down. At what point do we accept the fact it’s cheaper and easier for a corporation to perform its functions at the expense of the public’s health? Never. Progress Energy and its attitude toward fire protection at its nuclear plant is another example (sorry nuclear energy lovers!) I think a county wide look at this widespread herbicide treatment is in order, as well. Not sure if they’ve had issue with it in Orange or in Durham but I know that in Durham city there have been complaints about how Duke Energy has cut large holes in hardwoods’ canopies where powerlines go through them.

  16. I am meeting with the head of vegetative management from Duke Energy this afternoon, underneath the powerlines in a sea of rusted, herbicide-treated trees, some of which are 20 feet tall. For those interested, also, I am making a brief presentation statement about this at our Monday council meeting and will be making a petition to the staff that will formalize what I’m trying to find out here.

  17. Thanks Laurin for following up on this. I look forward to hearing Duke’s side of it.

  18. For those interested, I showed pictures last night of the “rusty brown trees” at our council meeting and presented a brief history as stated above, and petitioned the staff for an independent analysis of the type of herbicide used by DukeEnergy and whether or not it is harmful to humans/animals, our water supply, and how they plan to deal with the fact this area is a major fire hazard. DukeEnergy has already done a preliminary response in an email, but doesn’t answer the “harmfulness” question or the “fire hazard” issue. So we should expect to hear back soon from staff at a future council meeting.

  19. Apparently Chapel Hill is not the only town with residents worried about the vegetative management practices by Duke Energy. Here is a letter to the editor going out today by Richard Heitzenrater from Sylva, NC. I have his permssion to post this to my site:

    To Duke Energy Corporation, the North Carolina Utilities Commission, the Pesticide Board, and the editors of the Sylva Herald and Ruralite, The Charlotte Observer, The News and Observer, The Asheville Citizen-Times

    Comment:
    Does Duke Energy just not care about their customers? The spraying and cutting in the power easements seems to be done without regard to the property owner’s expressed desires, even though Duke Energy purports to having a program whereby landowners can be exempted from spraying. The program does not work.
    We used to enjoy the sea of mountain mint and the waves of butterflies in the power easement that comes close to our home on a mountain ridge near Sylva. That is, until they sprayed and killed everything about six years ago. We then signed up to be a no-spray customer and began maintaining the easement ourselves. The flowers and berries were making a strong comeback.
    But early this summer, when the crew came through to cut down the trees that might threaten the power lines, they also slashed down much of the smaller vegetation in parts of the easement, including two patches of blackberry and raspberry bushes that we had nurtured again over the last six years next to our driveway and garden, where the power line is closest to the house. They chopped them all down, as though they threatened the power lines or prevented access to the poles, which they did not! In the last three years, we had made about seventy jars of blackberry jam, but apparently not next year.
    So we called Bruce Dills, the Right of Way Supervisor for the N P & L Loop, to complain about the mass cutting (as well as leaving beer cans and dirty toilet paper) in the easements, which we were maintaining ourselves. He said no signs were obvious. We asked why the power company destroyed vegetation that presented no threat to the power lines and stressed (talking with him two times) that we did not want any more cutting or spraying of the easements-we really did want the mountain mint, the wild flowers, the wild strawberries, the blackberries, and the raspberries. We also complained about the discarded cans and dirty toilet paper left by the crew. We also called the Duke Energy offices in Charlotte and talked with three people, including two of their lawyers, asking how to stop the destruction of the berries and flowers.
    Mr. Dills called back in a few days and said he had checked our easements and could not find any cans or paper. He suggested that someone else must have broken through our gate when we were gone and left the trash (although there is no evidence of anyone having disturbed our gate). He also tried to convince us that we really should have the easements sprayed. We said no.
    In the meantime, we sent in the no-spray forms again to him with accompanying maps (with the easements marked in color) and ordered new “no spray” signs from the supplier in Hillsborough. But while we were gone one day and before we got the signs up, the Duke Energy “herbicide application crew” came through and sprayed, killing all the berry plants and wild flowers. Where was Mr. Dills, the supervisor? What about the “no spray” list that we were on?
    The sad part is that within days before the sprayers came through, I had spent two mornings cutting down the little saplings to protect about a thousand feet of the power lines, and reducing the tall weeds and other plants so that the flowers and berries would thrive! The sprayers had to be blind not to see that the easements had just been maintained. And we had talked with Mr. Dills two or three times in the previous two weeks! And he knew which property we were talking about, because he not only had the maps, he had been there and could describe the property.
    There was absolutely no need for the spraying. We had talked vigorously with Mr. Dills within days of the devastation. We had maintained the easement. We had signed up twice for the no-spray program. We had sent in maps.
    There will be no berries next year (they bear on the second year of the plants). It will take years again to get the mountain mint started back again. And the butterflies will have to look elsewhere for a sea of flowers.
    Does Duke Energy really care about the beauty of the mountain environment? Does Duke Energy really care about their customers? Are their own programs for protecting clients’ wishes effective?
    Richard Heitzenrater 139 Falling Leaf Trail Sylva, NC 28779

  20. That’s inexcusable. I think that Mr. H should seek to be reimbursed for any investments in plants that he made since it appears that Duke had more than ample notice by its own policies and did not follow them. A small claims court judgement would provide documentation for others later on.

  21. This issue came up again at our most recent council meeting with reviewing the SUP for Habitat’s project, which has a major Duke Power easement running through it. Habitat has planned a community garden in/around the easement and a Tot lot. Apparently the planning board had suggested a stipulation be included that allowed the homeowners the right to maintain the Duke easement to avoid herbicide treatment. The manager, at this point, recommended the council not consider that suggestion because we really don’t have a right (right now?!) to tell Duke, who owns this property, what to do with it, and apparently they prefer to take care of it themselves (spraying!). But I emphasize this is right now. I’m hoping that the staff report on my petition (coming soon) will provide the council with a lot of information that we can use to hold Duke accountable, if necessary, on how they take care of their easements. We also haven’t finalized our decision on the SUP. I also learned at this meeting that Progress Energy allows customers whose homes back up to easements the right to display a sign to inform PE workers that they prefer no herbicide treatment, and those workers don’t spray near the homes. If Progress Energy can do that, then why can’t Duke Energy? And further, Duke Energy should at the minimum clean up the mess they’ve made and protect this community against the fire hazard they’ve created.

  22. Laurin, many thanks for looking into this. My neighbors and I are on well water and are quite concerned about Duke Energy’s herbicide usage. Any recent news?

  23. Hi Tracy,
    The staff report, I’m told, is coming very soon. One interesting thing recently is while in the process of approving the SUP for the Habitat project out off Rogers Road area, we learned that the Habitat developers were able to work it out with Duke Energy to prevent their spraying in the easement that runs through their development. The maintenance of the easement will fall in the HOA’s hands. I think the bottom line is that people who live near these easements should have a choice about whether or not herbicides are used. Apparently that is what Progress Energy offers their customers. I am looking forward to the upcoming staff report so stay tuned. Thanks for your interest.

  24. Tommy Walls wrote 12/08/07:

    High Point, North Carolina Piedmont Environment Center and Bicentennial Greenway.

    Along East Fork Road and across from the Jamestown Golf course is the Piedmont Environmental Center/Park and Bicentennial Greenway. It is a public park and Greenway used by many to get outdoors. About a half mile down the Bicentennial Greenway is the Duke Energy herbicidal right of way. The right of way area is about approximately 100 feet wide and a 1/2 mile in length. The area was sprayed with hazardous herbicides without notification to the public. The herbicidal labels say agricultural workers should not enter a treated area for 48 hours without protective clothing. The herbicidal label offers no protection to the public so Duke Energy can spray at will. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) inspector stated that some of the herbicides do not reach half life for 6 months. In North Carolina we are allowed to request that the utility companies use other methods of management for right of ways. It is our responsibility to request it. No one from a utility company is going to volunteer this information to you. The utility companies will also want you to bare the responsibility, cost, and upkeep of “No Spray Signs” on your property. So no to the utility companies, you do not want to be liable for a hazardous herbicidal accident or for making your neighbors sick. The utility companies do not notify anyone about their right of way activities, typically you learn of it after the fact when it is too late. The spraying had an effect on the High Point City Lake which supplies drinking water to many in Guilford County and local communities. Everyone citizen should have the right to know if the area they are in has been treated with hazardous herbicides. They also should know if it has affected their drinking water supply. Please call your local and state representatives to end these underhanded, dirty, and unethical right of way management procedures by our utility companies. All right of ways are subject this practice and not just limited to Duke Energy.

  25. Thanks so much, Tommy. Can you tell me more about the spraying having an effect on the High Point City Lake? Were there measured amounts of herbicide in the drinking water there? This is of great concern to me. Our staff will be bringing forward more information on this issue at our council meeting in January. I’d love to know more information about the High Point City Lake.

  26. http://citizens1.wordpress.com/

    Hi Laurin,

    After seeing your blog I spent most of the day creating my blog. I added you as a link. Can you tell if my blog is published? It is complete with a slide show of the area. I can not say how much herbicide went into the water. The City of High Point Water Department, said that there was a slight bump in the population of protozoans or dinoflagellates (forms of algae). I do not know what the definition of a bump is but I have asked and not recieved an answer. You may try contacting them. Duke Energy has since come back to the right of way and cleared it completey. In my opinion it was a herbicidal hazard, fire hazard, and an eye sore. What I don’t understand is why the City of High Parks and Recreation Department has chosen to let Duke Energy continue with a herbicidal plan without public considerations. I have emailed the High Point City Council with my concerns. If you would like to speak with me provide me with your telephone number and I will give you a call. Thanks.

    Tommy

  27. Hi Laurin,

    I am not a water expert but here is what I found on the Internet at the EPA:

    http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ndwac/sm010798/paulccl1.html
    Ground Water & Drinking Water
    Summary of Suggestions
    January 9, 1998
    Made during the January 7, 1998 NDWAC Working Group Conference Call regarding changes the Drinking Water Candidate Contaminant List (CCL) for Microorganisms

    Algae
    Blue-Green Algae (cyanobacteria) and related toxins, including micotoxin should be added to the CCL. They have caused outbreaks and are not currently being tracked, and the Agency needs to learn more about these organisms. The Working Group recommended that “freshwater algae and related toxins” be listed in lieu of “blue-green algae,” because there are freshwater algae in addition to blue-green algae that produce toxins.

  28. Interesting article today about power line easements and trees in the News and Observer….in fact front page.
    http://www.newsobserver.com

    No real mention of herbicide treatment, only mass cutting. I think I’ll get in touch with the reporter on that story.

  29. Hi Laurin,

    Please go to this site and read about the breakdown product in Aresnal, it is disturbing to read. I have asked NCDA to come back out to sample the soil in the right of way but I am not sure what is going to take place. I will keep you posted.

    http://www.akaction.org/PDFs/Imazapyr_facts.pdf,

    Tommy Walls

  30. Tommy I appreciate all your information. Please do keep me in the loop. Thanks!
    Laurin

  31. Laurin,

    I got some advice from Fawn Patterson at PestEd as follows that I pasted below. It is going to take governing bodies and elected officals to stop the herbicides. Citizens have to work the system. It may take time. Hopefully your town council will request a “No Spray” policy for the town, I would hope a blanket type request to cover the whole town. I would also hope the town would enforce a “Right to Know” with Duke Energy. Here on my end I have emailed all of the Jamestown Business Association Members, The town council, Jamestown Youth League, City of High Point, Piedmont Environmental Center, NCDA, EPA, DENR, Amateur Radio Operators, Running Clubs across the state, and anyone else I can think of. I have avoided going to the media but you may want to try that route.

    Hello Mr. Walls,

    I’m responding to your series of emails about the right-of-way spraying situation in High Point.

    As for more comprehensive options, there are basically two routes that I can think of:
    -The NC General Assembly could consider a bill to mitigate this kind of spraying on rights-of-way; or
    -The NC Pesticide Board could adopt rules to mitigate this kind of spraying on rights-of-way.

    Both of those bodies have the authority to regulate pesticide (including herbicide) use in the state.

    In 1997 the Pesticide Board rejected a citizen petition for rulemaking on this very issue, which is how the MOA came about. I know you are already aware of the 1998 Memorandum of Agreement among several organizations (including ours) and Duke, Progress & Dominion Power. That MOA took an “opt-out” approach that required consumers to avail themselves of the information and notify the power company that they did not want their rights-of-way sprayed. The feedback I have heard from utilities since then is that they believe it is good customer relations, and planned to continue offering that option to their customers, despite the MOA’s official expiration in 2003.

    I have heard from several other people like you this year who have serious concerns about Duke Power’s herbicide overuse on rights-of-way. If you like, I would be happy to put you all in touch with each other.

    Please let me know how I can be of service to you.

    Best wishes,
    Fawn

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Fawn Pattison, Executive Director
    Pesticide Education Project
    206 New Bern Place, Raleigh NC 27601
    (919) 833-5333
    http://www.PESTed.org

  32. Laurin and group,

    Use your cameras to capture the sites. A picture is worth a 1000 words.

    Tommy

  33. Thanks Tommy I am going to give this information to our Town Staff tomorrow as I’ll be in Town Hall. Also, I have many pictures and I’ve displayed them to the Town Council….but I need to configure the pictures to this blogsite which has been difficult. I may even go out and get more pictures with a picture of me with the trees in the background, to give people a sense of how LARGE the trees are here that they’ve sprayed. They’re over 20 feet tall. I’ll keep everyone updated….. I’d love to go to the general assembly with this one, believe me.

  34. Laurin,

    Contact State Representative Pricey Harrison, she is here in Guilford County. I think she is going to try to get something in before April. She has a web site with her email. Get the pictures. I just wish NCDA would think out of the label for public safety. Contact NCDA and start asking for soil samples and inspections. You may already have done that.

    Tommy

  35. You can add your pictures via the Rockyou slide show. Take a look at my site. I created a slide show of the right of way area where the trees had been sprayed.

    Tommy

  36. Hi Luarin,

    The Jamestown News has started writing a series of articles on the Duke Energy herbicide spraying to include some of the pictures I had sent to them. I don’t know what the out come will be but at least is will raise public awarness to the situation. You can see the article at:

    http://www.womacknewspapers.com/jamestownnews/

    Respectfully,
    Tommy

  37. Hi Laurin,

    The Jamestown News printed another article on the use of herbicides by Duke Energy. They mentioned Chapel Hill in the article. Hopefully the article will raise public awarness to the situation. Everyone should have a right to know when they are being exposed to these hazardous herbicides, especially in public parks like our Piedmont Environmental Center and Greenway.

  38. Please read our town staff’s response to my petition at http://www.townofchapelhill.org —it’s agenda number 5c. Would love to hear some input from folks here on this site or at our meeting about next steps and whether or not we can hold Duke Energy accountable perhaps in other areas of the state. They may contend it’s their property and they can do what they want to, but not when our water supply is contaminated from runoff from these harmful herbicides, or how large swathes of land with rusted, herbicided trees affect the wildlife around here. As an example, the brand Arsenal that they use says “avoid contact with eyes or clothing. Prolonged or frequently repeated skin contact may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.” All of the herbicides they list have the common thread of “do not apply directly to water, or to areas where surface water is present or to intertidal reas below the mean high water mark. Do not contaminate water when disposing of equipment washwaters or rinsate.” So WATER contamination is an important consideration near and around these herbicides, and please tell me how any runoff from rain around these herbicided areas do not contain any herbicide enough to contaminate our waters draining to Jordan Lake. Unfortuanately, we don’t have the answers to those questions specifically. Duke Energy has recently come out to the city areas here in Chapel Hill and bushhogged the previously treated herbicided areas, but not all of those areas. Why not just cut and that’s it, in the first place, or cut and use an extremely harmLESS spray that has been tested and that we know does not pose a risk. I guess it’s all about the corporate bottom line. That doesn’t sit well with me and we need to hold them accountable.

  39. Please read our town staff’s response to my petition at http://www.townofchapelhill.org —it’s agenda number 5c. Would love to hear some input from folks here on this site or at our meeting about next steps and whether or not we can hold Duke Energy accountable perhaps in other areas of the state. They may contend it’s their property and they can do what they want to, but not when our water supply is contaminated from runoff from these harmful herbicides, or how large swathes of land with rusted, herbicided trees affect the wildlife around here. As an example, the brand Arsenal that they use says “avoid contact with eyes or clothing. Prolonged or frequently repeated skin contact may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.” All of the herbicides they list have the common thread of “do not apply directly to water, or to areas where surface water is present or to intertidal reas below the mean high water mark. Do not contaminate water when disposing of equipment washwaters or rinsate.” So WATER contamination is an important consideration near and around these herbicides, and please tell me how any runoff from rain around these herbicided areas do not contain any herbicide enough to contaminate our waters draining to Jordan Lake. Unfortuanately, we don’t have the answers to those questions specifically. Duke Energy has recently come out to the city areas here in Chapel Hill and bushhogged the previously treated herbicided areas, but not all of those areas. Why not just cut and that’s it, in the first place, or cut and use an extremely harmLESS spray that has been tested and that we know does not pose a risk. I guess it’s all about the corporate bottom line. That doesn’t sit well with me and we need to hold them accountable.

  40. Hi Laruin,

    It is all about the bottom line and profit. Duke Energy is Wall Street driven. They are not the friendly company they use to be when I was a kid. I suppose if you had access to the books you would see the profit that can be made in right of way maintenance by spraying hazardous herbicides that kills all plant life. Also this increases the profits from sales of chemical companies. There is no plant life down on Wall Street, just pavement.

  41. Hi All,

    Below is a link to a YouTube video for Chapel Hill, NC. It shows how the right of way has been sprayed with hazardous herbicides in a Chapel Hill neighborhood. No land owner notifications or warnings to the public for refusal. This is wrong. This needs to be stopped. Duke Energy has created a fire hazard, herbicide hazard, and enviromental hazard.

    Duke Energy wants the public and private land owners to use the discovery process for knowing when they have been subjected to hazardous herbicides. This is wrong. Duke Energy also wants the private land owner to fill out and send them a refusal form once you have discovered it. They also want you to make a drawing of your right of way, buy ugly do not spray signs to post on your property, and to maintain the signs. I say, no I will not do any of the above except provide in writing the refusal for Duke Energy to not the use of spray on my property. This process has some issues for the following:

    1. I own the property and Duke Energy is not going to tell me what to do with it. I provide them with a right of way for the service. They should be thankful.

    2. What are handicapped people suppose to do with Duke Energy’s request for posting signs and maintaining them?

    3. What are fixed income people, like retirees suppose to do? Duke Energy I am sure has a budget for the maintenance of the right of ways if their CEO has not taken it for a raise or to make the numbers for Wall Street.

    4. No spray signs on private property and residence property is unsightly and in many neigborhoods violates sign ordinances. Also these signs have the potential to lower property values and to cause friction between neighbors.

    Duke Energy needs to start notifiying the land owners about their use hazardous herbicides as the ecthical right thing to do.

  42. (lake toxaway, nc)
    (forgive me for starting in such a way- but) i hate duke power and those lazy scum who spray poison at will !
    we were told we would be notified in advance, of when they would be coming around to trim…

    2 years ago- they came with no warning and sprayed on our farm- killing everything in it’s path- including all of our flame azaleas, wild orchids, endless amounts other wild plants…
    but get this- they also sprayed my entire garden around a small pond, next to a pavilion (it is so obvious that the garden and all were man-made and maintained) killing hundreds of dollars worth of perennials i had planted, as well as the life in the pond.

    we also get all of our household and drinking water (for us and our animals) water from a spring, very close the the area where they spray. (we have no access to city/county water utilities)

    needless to say we were upset-
    so we called duke power, etc, etc… and they told us we had to purchase and post ‘picture’ signs with a circle and line crossing out a spray canister (you get the idea)-
    i suppose they recommended the picture signs, because so many of the crews spraying/cutting are hispanic and may not speak english well enough to read a sigh that says “no spray”…

    so the signs are up- right…
    and just last week, while no one was home they sprayed, at both ends of my property, at least 50 feet or more past the signs… and who knows where else as more plants are dying everyday…
    they also sprayed very close to our animal’s water source, (a few feet away) right along a pasture fenceline on our farm.

    absolutely ridiculous !
    did they just not notice the signs ?
    or did they just not care ?

    and what on earth could they possibly be trying to kill (now) ?
    they killed EVERYTHING 2 years ago.
    why on earth would ironweed or jack-in-the-pulpits be a threat to wires hundreds of feet above ?

    argh.
    sadly, i feel there is just nothing i can do here…
    the loss of our beautiful forest plantlife is bad enough- but i am seriously concerned about this poisoning our ground water and sping heads.

    our govenment must change.
    they are killing us and the land- for profit.

  43. To All, please go to the North Carolina Utilities Commission’s Web site and view the formal dockets that have been filed. I would suggest that if you have similar complaints that you also file a complaint with the NCUC, it is a two part process, the first complaint filing is informal, not much takes place, the second part is a formal complaint that you need to be sure and ask for, here things start to happen. You can also ask for a sort of court hearing, I am not to that stage yet but will do if needed. If I can be of service or offer advice let me know at kc4zze@hotmail.com

    http://ncuc.commerce.state.nc.us/cgi-bin/fldrdocs.ndm/INPUT?compdesc=DUKE%20ENERGY%20CAROLINAS%2C%20LLC&numret=001&comptype=E&docknumb=7&suffix1=&subNumb=855&suffix2=&parm1=000128787

    DUKE ENERGY CAROLINAS, LLC
    (E-7 Sub 855)

    Date Search View All Docs

    Subscribe to Email Notification for Orders Issued
    Pages Description Date Filed
    1 Order Serving Reply and Request for Additional Information* 07/03/2008
    5 Attachment to Order Serving Reply 07/03/2008
    1 Certified Card Receipt for Order Issued 6-3-08 (Duke Power) 06/26/2008
    5 Complainant’s Response to Order Serving Answer 06/19/2008
    1 Certified Card Receipt for Order Issued 6-12-08 (Wall) 06/18/2008
    2 Order Serving Answer and Motion to Dismiss* 06/12/2008
    8 Attachment to Order Serving Answer and Motion to Dismiss 06/12/2008
    8 Duke Energy’s Answer, Offer of Relief & Motion to Dismiss Complaint 06/11/2008
    1 Certified Card Receipt for Order Issued 5-14-08 (Duke Power) 06/09/2008
    1 Order Granting Extension of Time 06/03/2008
    5 Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC’s Motion for Extension of Time 05/30/2008
    1 Order Serving Complaint* 05/14/2008
    30 Attachment Order Serving Complaint 05/14/2008
    An asterisk after an Order Description indicates there is an attachment to the Order. The attachment will appear in the list as a separate entry.

  44. I tried the path our Lt. Govenor recommended but it failed to produce any positive results. It appears the North Carolina Utlity Services Commission can not read the very items it says I can not prove such as Duke Energy’s stipulation that right of way land owner’s are to purchase “No Spray” signs even when the Duke Energy forms are provided to them as proof. The process is a sham and is one sided. When a hearing was asked for, one was not granted! For our NCDA inspectors to use and quote from a document that is not binding nor legal at meetings is a waste of tax payer dollars. These folks should be fired!

  45. I agree with Christina- Duke is SCUM! They make my husband want to go out and get a gun to pull out on those work crews! Just last week they notified us that they would “trim” our trees. Well, they came through and clear cut at least an acre of our forest, and slaughtered 10 trees which bloomed gorgeous flowers which were intentionally planted near the power lines b/c they did not grow taller than 20 ft. Our once beautiful forest is now a massacred wasteland. Their crew of Mexicans did it in a few hours.

    We too live off of spring water and all of our neighbors have wells. When I called Duke about the inevitable spraying I spent 45 mins. on and off of hold trying to get some kind of information- ANY information- when is the spraying scheduled for, what chemicals are sprayed? How do I stop the spraying from happening- at least on my property? The girl had NO ANSWERS!!!! Duke doesn’t even know what it is spraying!!!!! It could be agent orange for all they know. What ever it is it must be carcinogenic to be able to wipe out plant life as it does.

    The destruction of our trees was bad enough- now Duke wants us all to get cancer. They must be hand in hand with the pharmaceutical companies as well as the herbicidal companies. It seems to me they would realize that if they make us all sick and we die- we won’t be customers anymore!

    Although I am a non-violent vegetarian, I think I will encourage my husband to go out and buy a gun- considering our government won’t protect us from/seems to be in alliance with these bloodthirsty for cash corporate scum.

  46. One other thing to consider… Think of the poor Mexicans they hire to do this awful work for pennies- I am sure the money they make as contract labor will not pay their hospital bills when they get sick from working with those toxic chemicals.

  47. They sprayed my property today. They sprayed my blackberries my kids eat and the land my animals graze. They sprayed where my dog runs. Worst of all my wife is pregnant. Glad I ran them off and knew what happened or my pregnant wife would have eaten poison Blackberries. I posted signs and told them never to return. If they come back next year they will not be allowed to leave my property unless 1 or 2 options are met.

    • Kevin and all,
      I am currently discussing this with several folks…Duke just sprayed my property again this year, after being told to get off of my land a few years ago and asking to be put on a “no spray” or opt out list. They seemed to have forgotten this. I did have blackberries this year…ate some, froze some and left some on the vines for the animals. Hope they didn’t spray before I got to eat mine…that would not be good….I’m in Alamance County.,