SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Broad Coalition Formed To Oppose Aerial Pesticide Spraying Permit


March 31, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - Today, along with 46 concerned organizations and individuals, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) filed a request for an adjudicatory hearing with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), opposing the aerial pesticide spraying permit granted to Klukwan, Inc.

jpg Long Island Aerial Pesticide Spraying

The broad coalition of interests includes city governments, federally-recognized tribal councils, Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Grand Camp of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood, commercial fishing groups and businesses, conservation organizations, the Alaska Nurses Association, and individual health care practitioners and subsistence users. This wide spectrum of interests has expressed strong concerns about the effects the pesticides will have on human health, fish, and wildlife.  

In Ketchikan, Susan Walsh, R.N., of the Alaska Nurses Association said, "Many pesticides have proved toxic to human health, so the Association has adopted a 'precautionary principle' toward them. That means DEC needs to prove beyond any doubt that these pesticides will not harm human health. The agency hasn't done that."

On March 1, 2006, DEC issued a permit to Klukwan, Inc. to spray pesticides by helicopter to kill "unwanted" alder and salmonberry in previously clearcut land owned by the Native corporation. Klukwan, Inc. plans to spray pesticides Accord (glyphosate) and Arsenal (imazapyr) over 1,965 acres on Long Island, near Prince of Wales Island. Two other chemicals, Competitor (a surfactant) and In-place (a drift inhibitor), will be mixed with the pesticides. The corporation received a similar permit last March, but withdrew the project after DEC put its decision on hold and granted a hearing to resolve widespread public concerns.

Opponents say the studies DEC used only examine the effects of the chemicals individually, not in a cocktail mix as Klukwan, Inc. will actually spray them. Opponents assert the mixing could cause unanticipated and unstudied effects on people, fish, and wildlife and could harm the traditional and commercial uses of the areas on and near Long Island.  

"DEC has selectively ignored credible, peer-reviewed scientific evidence that these chemicals are harmful to people's health and that children are particularly vulnerable. They are serving the interests of the corporation and not fulfilling their mandate to protect public health," states Pamela Miller, Executive Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics.

According to Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, many people feel DEC has brushed aside their concerns. The agency refused to hold a public hearing in Ketchikan, even though 84 people signed a petition requesting one. Over 99% of the 1,298 total comments DEC received for this permit (918 comments) and the previous permit (380 comments) opposed spraying.

Tom Morrison, Mayor of Hydaburg says, "People are worried. DEC has totally neglected an overwhelmingly negative response, and hasn't answered valid, concrete questions. Nobody has ever come up and said 'this is good for people and good for Alaska.'"

Mayor Morrison said the Haida people in the area have hunted, fished, and gathered traditional foods and medicines on Long Island for generations. There are options for clearing the alder and salmonberries other than spraying pesticides, such as mechanical thinning.

Rob Sanderson, a Haida who lives in Ketchikan and President of the Ketchikan chapter of Central Council Tlingit and Haida, said "The Haida have strong ancestral ties to Long Island. It is a place our families used for generations past and that we use now, yet DEC refuses to listen to our concerns about how spraying pesticides where we get our food will affect us. It's a hideous plan. Why can't they put a thinning crew out there?"

Kimberly Strong, Tribal Council President of Chilkat Indian Village of Klukwan, said "This permit goes against traditional tribal values of mutual respect for people and their traditional use areas."

"I have grandchildren, and my concern is for children and the elderly," says Joe Hotch, a Klukwan Village tribal judge and elder. "They are victims of something they don't have any control over. We wouldn't want people spraying pesticides here where we get our traditional foods."

Another unifying concern is the precedent this permit sets to allow aerial spraying of chemicals for forestry vegetation management purposes near salmon streams, hunting areas, and locations used for gathering traditional foods and other resources.

Buck Lindekugel of SEACC says "This permit opens the door for aerial spraying on private clearcut lands all over Southeast and the rest of Alaska. Spraying pesticides where people fish and gather food would poison the lifestyle and livelihoods many Alaskans treasure."

Hearing Requestors:

City of Hydaburg;
Hydaburg Cooperative Association;
Chilkat Indian Village of Klukwan;
Klawock Cooperative Association;
Organized Village of Kasaan;
Craig Community Association;
Ketchikan Indian Community;
Organized Village of Saxman;
Organized Village of Kake;
Petersburg Indian Association;
Hoonah Indian Association;
Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska;
Alaska Inter-Tribal Council;
Alaska Native Brotherhood & Alaska Native Sisterhood Grand Camp;
United Fishermen of Alaska;
Alaska Trollers Association;
Seafood Producers Cooperative;
Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association;
Alaska Wild Salmon Company;
United Southeast Alaska Gillnetters;
Alaska Community Action on Toxics;
Prince of Wales Conservation;
Tongass Conservation Society;
Naha Bay Preservation Coalition;
Tongass Cave Project;
Lower Chatham Conservation Society;
Sitka Conservation Society;
Lynn Canal Conservation;
Cook Inlet Keeper;
Kachemak Bay Conservation Society;
Alaska Youth for Environmental Action;
Alaska Nurses Association;
Michael W. Tobin, M.D.;
Myron Fribush, M.D.;
Anya Maier, M.D.;
Adam Grove, N.D.;
Birgit Lenger, N.D.;
Jeri Rosenthal, R.N.;
Andre LeCornu, R.N.;
Jenny Pursell, L.C.S.W.;
Mike Sallee;
Dave McFadden;
Robert Sanderson;
Carrie L. James;
Joe Hotch;
Reverends Val and Sal Burattin;
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council


Related Information:

pdfDEC Long Island Trust Pesticide Permit Application for Aerial Use of Pesticides for Forestry Vegetation management - Decesion Document March 1, 2006


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