Use of Herbicides

Jul 09, 2013  Comment

 Question: Why is Yukon Energy testing herbicides in two Whitehorse locations? I am concerned about the safety of my children and animals. I am also concerned about inhaling the herbicide if it is sprayed on the ground, since the plot near my home is dry and dusty.

Yukon Energy has hundreds of kilometres of transmission line and we must keep the right-of-ways under the lines clear to ensure reliability of our system. Currently we mow the right-of-ways and manually remove the trees under our powerlines. However we were asked by our regulator, the Yukon Utilities Board, to review our practice. We hired an environmental consultant who recommended that we incorporate the use of herbicides as part of our vegetation management program.

We hired a second environmental consulting firm, to get a second option and to look at what other power companies are using, what herbicides are the lowest environmental risk, and what are the most effective. They recommended several and we have narrowed it down to a list of three that appear to be the safest and yet most effective. These three have all been approved as safe to use by Health Canada. We are assured they are non-toxic to humans and animals. We have obtained the necessary permit from Environment Yukon to apply these herbicides in our test plots near the Long Lake Road and off the Hot Springs Road.

The three herbicides we are testing on the small (10 meter by 10 meter) plots are:

Garlon XRT #28945
Roundup Transorb Liquid Herbicide #28198

The plots are clearly marked with multiple signs.

We haven’t made any decisions about whether we will use these herbicides on an ongoing basis – that’s why we are doing the testing. We are approaching this with caution.

Environmental consultants have pointed out that using herbicides results in some environmental benefits, since the right-of-ways would be disturbed less often by heavy equipment (because we wouldn’t have to manually remove vegetation so often). The experts tell us it could also promote the growth of grasses and other vegetation desirable to animals and humans, since herbicides can be selectively applied to target certain plants or trees. It also reduces bird nest disturbances.  

In terms of breathing in the herbicide, our contractor is spraying the herbicide on the leaves of the plants and not on the ground. The vegetation absorbs the herbicide as it dries, so inhalation is highly unlikely. We have been told that once the herbicide dries (within 24 hours) there is no danger of it rubbing off on skin or clothing. We are taking extra precautions by asking people to stay out of the plots for two weeks.

The herbicide is added to water and is .4% solution, so the levels of herbicide in the solution are low.

I hope this helps answer your questions.



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