“I was just outraged. In this day and age, who is going out there and spraying their whole property, every square metre of it, with poison. And why weren’t we notified?” asked Cortes Island naturalist George Sirk.
The herbicides TELUS sprayed
According to the notice on their fence, TELUS used two substances
- VP 480 is for selective weed control and the producer warns “May cause an allergic skin reaction. Causes eye irritation” and also “Material is moderately toxic to aquatic organisms on an acute basis”
- Banvel VM is a commercial herbicide which the producer states “controls deciduous and coniferous brush species and broadleaf weeds in pasture and rangeland, and non-cropland areas, such as roadsides, hydro, pipeline and railway rights-of-way, airports, military bases, wasteland and similar non-cropland areas, as well as broadleaf weeds in established turf.” It should not come into contact “with skin, eyes, and clothing” and is “toxic to aquatic organisms and non-target terrestrial plants.”
Most of the grass within their compound, and for a foot or so outside the chain link fence, is dead.
No known notifications
At this point, no Mansons Landing residents are known to have received prior letters of notification.
TELUS did not publish notices on the Tideline, Cortes Marketer, Cortes Currents, Cortes Radio or any other local media outlet.
Nor has TELUS responded to Cortes Currents queries.
Cortes Island naturalist George Sirk discovered the incident and gave an overview of the environmental impacts.
As the ‘dead zone’ extends a foot beyond TELUS’ fence, Sirk asks if this is public land and did TELUS’ permit include spraying on it?
Potential impacts to animals
What about the snakes, spiders and other insects on TELUS’ property?
“It is peak nesting season for all the birds. Right across the street from the street, there is a White Crowned Sparrow. The White Crowned Sparrow is a seed eater. It would probably go in there and get the seeds that are being cut down. Or the insects that are there: the ones that survive if this stuff kills insects. And it is not just the Sparrows, there are other birds in the area. The Swainson Thrushes, for instance, are beautiful singers and would feed through that area. So here we are nesting season and they are spraying!” said Sirk. “That is ridiculous, in 2021 to spray in nesting season!”
Potential impacts to humans
Cortes Island School, Medical Centre and the Cortes Senior’s village are just up Beasley road.
“In their notice it says they sprayed at 1 PM. So did they notify the school to make sure that the kids did not go outside? You may say 300 or 400 metres, that’s a long way – no, it is not a long way. Beasley is a wind tunnel, going right up the road,” said Sirk.
What about the workers who walk through the site? How well did they clean their shoes? Did they stop in Mansons Landing for something to eat? Or a coffee?
Potential drainage problems
There may also be drainage issues.
“Right at the edge of the property is a whopping big ditch. The water comes down Beasley Road and right past their property. So just a few beyond the sprayed area is that ditch. Where is that ditch going? Across the property on the other side of Rexford Road and into the ocean. What’s down there” the clam beds, the oyster beds and all the marine life that is there as well…” said Sirk.
When Cortes get a heavy rainfall, as it periodically does, Sirk suspects the residue of that herbicide will be washed right out to the ocean.
TELUS intends to erect a cell phone tower on this site: so are they going to build a foundation for it? If so, what are they going to do with all the contaminated soil?
(There is much, much more in the podcast.)
Links of Interest:
- (Open Alberta) Herbicide Group Classification by Mode of Action
- (Corteva) VP 480
- (Better vegetation management) Banvel VM
- (Cortes Currents) articles about, or mentioning, Cortes Island’s Birds
- (Cortes Currents) articles, about or mentioning, TELUS
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