MBTA plans Herbicide Application in Newton -- DEJA VU!

Brief history:
Back in July 1995, GreenCAP received over 50 calls in response to the “public alert” that GreenCAP mailed to residents, day care centers, nursing homes and other property owners near the MBTA tracks.  The Newton Board of Aldermen passed a resolution requesting a public meeting. The scheduled spray was postponed. There was a large public meeting at the Newton Free Library with representatives of the MBTA, city officials and state representatives.

Both the public and city and state officials strongly objected to the MBTA’s pesticide use.  Citizens questioned the need for spraying. They expressed serious concerns about the hazards of the weed killers, Roundup and Oust, about the potential for pesticide drift and run off to surrounding properties, about the MBTA's lack of communication, and about the way the spraying would be conducted.

and...Nov. 4, 2006,  Dear Green Decade Board,
On November 2, 2006, an Allerton Road resident whose yard runs up to the MBTA fence line called to to tell us about the recent clear cutting and herbicide application of the MBTA tracks and slopes.  It was obvious from the devastation left behind on the right-of-way slopes in Newton Highlands and near Crystal Lake and beyond, that the vegetation control is not done in a scientific, horticultural, or public health-sensitive manner.
Apparently, areas previously protected from herbicide application no longer had protected status and advance notification to the public was limited to a single notice in the Boston Globe four months prior to the date of the herbicide spraying. The city of Newton was notified of weakened protections for waterways and wetlands in a single letter of 2000 sent to the Conservation Commissioner of Newton.

The resident, whose yard includes a compost pile and organic garden, was not notified of the spraying although, in the early 1990s, the Health Department had promised to alert her when the MBTA was going to use herbicides and her name was still on record.

In 1999, The Environmental League of Massachusetts, referencing a research review (15 pages, 183 citations) in the Journal of Pesticide Reform, Fall 1998, noted that Oust is one of a new generation of herbicides called sulfonylureas that are 100 times more toxic to weeds than their predecessors. These chemicals have been shown to cause serious crop plant damage when they drift away from target areas.  

Glyphosate has been measured in runoff four months after its application.  Glyphosate increases non-target plants' susceptibility to disease and reduces the growth of nitrogen-fixing bacteria.  It has reduced populations of beneficial insects, birds, and small mammals by destroying vegetation on which they depend for food and shelter.