Power pole storage concerns some Charlotte residents

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(Host) Some Charlotte residents are concerned about a plan by VELCO to use agricultural land in their town to store chemically treated power poles.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) Most of the telephone and power poles along Vermont’s roads are treated with pentachlorophenol, also called PCP. It’s a chemical fungicide used as a wood preservative. The 400 wooden poles that VELCO wants to store in Charlotte are treated with the same chemical.

VELCO is looking for a 15-acre area to store the poles. They’ll be used for construction of a power line from New Haven to South Burlington. The company has narrowed its search to several locations on agricultural land in Charlotte.

Peter Demick owns an organic farm near sites VELCO is considering.

Demick is concerned about the PCP in the poles.

(Demick) “We’re worried about the leaching that will happen into the air, the water and the soil of the surrounding area.”

(Zind) Demick says he’s also concerned about damage to agricultural land. He says the gravel that would be used to cover the storage site, plus the constant truck traffic would render it useless for future farming.

Tom Dunn of VELCO says the location selected will be used to store the poles for up to two years.

(Dunn) “It is a temporary use of the site and our intent would be to restore the site back to its original condition after the construction is completed.”

(Zind) Dunn says the PCP used to treat the poles biodegrades quickly and won’t pose a risk to water or soil.

The chemical was once used as common herbicide but it was banned for this purpose in 1987 because of the health risks associated with it. It remains in wide use as a wood preservative.

According to the National Safety Council, PCP rapidly degrades in air, on land, and in water, but is a serious health risk for those who come into contact with it.

For VPR news, I’m Steve Zind.

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