Morning Sentinel
Risks of chemical marginal
Bookmark & share: digg Reddit
Reader Comments (below)
story tools
sponsored by
Staff Writer
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 08/18/2009

BELGRADE -- The chemical the state plans to use to control milfoil in Salmon Lake can pose a risk to people, plants and animals -- but when used according to guidelines, those risks are negligible.

That was the message from state officials Monday for residents crammed inside the steamy North Belgrade Community Center to ask questions about the state Department of Environmental Protection's plan to use chemicals against aggressive Eurasian milfoil that has taken root in Salmon Lake.

The state plans to use the herbicide 2,4-Dichlorophenoxy-acetic acid -- better known as 2,4-D -- to control Eurasian milfoil in Kozy Cove near the Salmon Lake outlet.

Eurasian milfoil, a highly aggressive aquatic plant that can form dense mats and congest waterways, was first discovered in Salmon Lake's Kozy Cove by a summer visitor last August. DEP divers began removing plants from the 6-acre cove within a week of the discovery, but the plant population continues to swell.

Since May, divers have removed 325 plants, more than twice the number removed last year.

Milfoil spreads readily by fragments often transferred via animals, boats and trailers.

Gary Fish of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control said 2,4-D can pose a risk to people, plants and animals but, when used according to guidelines, those risks are negligible and mostly involve drinking water.

The chemical does not absorb well through the skin, he said.

"We're not saying it does not have an effect on people," Fish said. "Two, four-D does have an affect on people. It's not a perfect science."

The DEP's Division of Water Quality Management has authorized a permit for the herbicide treatment. On July 28, the division approved a notice of intent, said John McPhedran, DEP invasive aquatic plants specialist.

The 30-day appeal period started July 28.

"We are not going to treat that cove during the appeal period," McPhedran said.

The Board of Environmental Protection will consider any appeal filed during the board's next regular session, scheduled for early September, McPhedran said.

DEP officials spent much of Monday's session explaining 2,4-D and its potential side effects.

Bruce Trumper -- who lives along the Salmon Stream, which flows out of Kozy Cove -- cited research indicating the chemical is toxic at a 75 parts per billion.

The level during the treatment could reach 3,500 parts per billion, according to DEP officials.

Roy Bouchard of the DEP's Lake Assessment Program said field studies show the chemical has a half-life of seven days and is undetectable in less than a month. Those Bouchard spoke to in other states who have used the herbicide reported no fish die-off or collateral plant devastation.

"Aquatic systems are extremely resilient and they have a large biomass to regenerate," Bouchard said.

Fish, of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency re-registered 2, 4-D for use in 2006 after exhaustive tests. But resident Terri Trumper said those tests are suspect because they are paid for or conducted by chemical companies.

"I think that's why it's constantly re-registered," Trumper said.

Jim Wilber, who also owns property along Salmon Stream, said milfoil calls for drastic action but asked why the dam could not be closed to limit the herbicide from carrying into the stream.

"The collateral damage is what I'm worried about," Wilber said. "I think that's something that needs to be considered."

Craig Crosby -- 623-3811, ext. 433

Bookmark and share this story: digg Reddit