SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



DEC refuses to answer our questions!
By Carrie James


March 13, 2006

Long Island is the backyard and food pantry for Hydaburg, and for many others in the area, including Ketchikan. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) just gave a permit to Klukwan, Inc. to aerially spray pesticides on Long Island. I AM APPALLED. Every tribe in the Southeast is against aerial spraying.

DEC doesn't even want to hear that we have concerns about spraying pesticides where we traditionally gather foods. When they were holding public hearings last October, they refused to hold a hearing in Ketchikan. Many people wanted a chance to testify. I know, I collected 84 names in just one and a half days of people that wanted a chance to speak. Everyone I talked to opposed the spraying. DEC said people in Ketchikan weren't close enough to Long Island, so we wouldn't get a public hearing. If they had bothered to ask the Southeast Regional Advisory Council (SERAC) on subsistence, they would know that subsistence hunters in Ketchikan harvest 75% of the deer taken from Long Island. I'd say that means we have a reason to care about what chemicals they spray there.

There are some questions Dr. Warren Porter, a Professor of Zoology and Environmental Toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, raised in his expert testimony for Klukwan, Inc.'s first permit last year that DEC still hasn't answered. (Klukwan, Inc. pulled the permit before the hearing.) The Environmental Protection Agency tests DEC relies on aren't foolproof. One, they test chemicals one by one, not in the combinations or at the commercial strength that Klukwan, Inc. will spray. How does DEC definitely know that the combined chemicals won't have harmful effects on our salmon streams, traditional foods, or children? Two, those tests are done in a lab, not under outdoor conditions and weather...Third, EPA rates "toxicity" by if it kills the subject or not, but doesn't look at the other effects that cause problems but aren't lethal. Also, they focus mainly on cancer rates, not looking as much at other problems such as effects on the nervous, immune, or endocrine (hormone) systems. Dr. Porter stated that peer-reviewed studies show that glyphosate can disrupt hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. DEC doesn't say anything about that, or how much of the chemical will cause these hormonal problems. If they don't know, they need to find out before allowing someone to spray this stuff where people gather food.

The reason over 900 people sent in comments, most of them opposing the permit, is that they are worried. Yes, even those 700 or so people that sent in "form" comments that DEC says are not important. They still were worried enough to send comments. DEC has not answered our questions.

If Klukwan, Inc. is dead set on getting rid of the alder and salmonberry, they don't have to use chemicals. They could hire youth and thin the alder, giving people at least some summer jobs. They could take the cut alder and make it into chips, then sell it for smoking fish. Why do they insist in spraying when they could make money off what they want to kill?

There are too many unanswered questions about this aerial pesticide spraying permit. DEC isn't listening to valid questions and concerns. It's irresponsible to approve this permit without carefully answering all the questions about if it's safe or not.

Concerned Citizen and Subsistence user,

Carrie L. James
E-mail: cljames(at)
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: Carrie is currently the President of Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp #14, currently Grand 2nd Vice President of Alaska Native Sisterhood at Grand Camp, currently a Tlingit and Haida Ketchikan Chapter Delegate for Central Council, and a past Tribal Council member for Ketchikan Indian Community (KIC)



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