The following letter was sent to NStar, the state Department of Agriculture, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and Tisbury town boards:

One day about five years ago, we received a letter from NStar informing us of a program that would use targeted herbicide applications over an extended period of time to eradicate fast growing trees and shrubs. This notice assured us that the chemicals used were “safe” and encouraged us to call with any concerns. I did call, expressing my dismay at the potential exposure to my infant and for any ill effects these chemicals might have on the drinking water. The NStar representative assured me they were “proven safe” and there was no need to worry because they were approved by the EPA. But the EPA admits “[pesticides] have not been adequately tested to determine their effects on people or the environment.” After the spraying, I could smell the chemicals for two days and I did not feel that our family should spend time outdoors. We were not the only ones to protest. Negative public response prompted a self-imposed moratorium to stop the spraying.

Four years later NStar has begun spraying chemicals again — this time without any notification letter or announcement in our local paper.

My family has lived alongside the power lines for almost 10 years. We have become accustomed to the manual clearing of brush and trees during this time. The first time NStar cleared, we were shocked because our yard, once secluded by vegetation 10 feet tall by 12 feet deep, was suddenly exposed. In this case the only infraction was our privacy. With the recently reinstated program to use toxic chemicals for the same purpose — “to keep the power lines clear of vegetation” — we are once again faced with the fact that our health and our environment are at risk.

Our family makes an effort not to use chemicals on our lawn or in our garden. NStar’s newly-reinstated program uses chemicals. There are many safer options. Gallons of poison sprayed onto foliage and into the earth is not a choice I would make for my family or for my neighbors. I think it is very dangerous.

Jenik Munafo Khelalfa
Vineyard Haven