By Grace Nichols
ALBANY: Save the Pine Bush research revealed that the City of Albany has been in violation of its own Pesticide Ordiance, not only at the Landfill, but also citywide, including public sites such as the Corning Preserve, the Washington Park Lakehouse, the Senior Center, the Visitor’s Center and City Hall.
We have consistently been presenting our research as it has developed since last Spring, and in the FEIS plan for the Landfill Expansion, the City agreed to stop using rodenticides – a danger to hawks, owls, coyote and other top predators – at the Landfill, where so many animals hunt and are at risk.
Late in the summer, we released our finding about city wide use of pesticides, particularly of rodenticides, placed near species and also children. Countrywide, there are 10,000 child poisionings from rodenticides each year. The Common Council was taken aback to find out they are in violation of the pesticides reduction city ordinance and called a special Department of General Services meeting.
At the Department of General Services meeting, representatives of Ehrlich Pesticides apologized for one mistaken administration of rodenticide up at the Landfill since the agreement in the FEIS. They have enrolled in a Green Shield program to phase out all EPA Toxicity Category I, II, III pesticides and ask that we look at the record in December to see that they will be in compliance by then.
Ehrlich reprentatives felt they should use Talstar P (active ingredient bifenthrin) but upon being educated that bifenthrin is a suspected endocrine disruptor currently being tested by the EPA, they pledged not to use it.
Perhaps most importantly, the pesticide applicators promised that they would go over the Integrated Pest Management Plan (IPM) for the proposed Habitat Restoration Plan (which is mitigation for the landfill expansion) and try to eliminate the harmful components. When questioned on Zinc Phosphide, they said they wouldn’t use it. The Honorable Michael O’Brien, chair of the City’s Department of General Services Committee, and the pest applicators reassured me that there would be would be additional hearings about the Habitat Restoration Plan and the IPM would be as risk free as possible.
We don’t honestly know what the process for that part of the Pine Bush’s future will be, nor if Erlich Pesticides has won that contract. However, their verbal willingness to backtrack from some of the most toxic, comprehensive pesticide use is a good direction and one which will require our vigilance and advocacy to encourage.
We did not set out to become pesticide experts, but we have found out that it is our privilege and our duty to read the laws, read the warnings and thereby safeguard both the City of Albany and our precious Pine Bush.
Finally, as Ehrlich Pesticides learns to do business in a new way, we are confident that they are better protecting their workers, attracting green customers and doing their part to make our earth a little healthier. We honor their willingness to change
We feel this is a big win, because the City conceded that they had made some longstanding mistakes and have pledged to stop spreading these poisons. We hope other pesticide applicators, who work the private industry, will also make these reforms. We also will continue to FOIL records to make sure that nobody makes errors and uses substances that are not safe. We are also sharing our data and research with Ehrlich Pesticides so that they can know the dangers of the pesticides they have previously chosen to use.
It is important that we continue with our “watchdog” function in helping City Hall’s policies to be as environmental as possible.
Published in the October/November 2009 Newsletter