Dominion herbicides: Don’t buy it

And now, a letter from a C-VILLE reader:

Dear Editor,

Travelling west on Fontaine Ave., one cannot help but notice the unsightly herbicide  spraying along the power line adjacent to Piedmont Housing, home to a number of  families with young children. Is this a "beautification" project by Dominion or one of its subcontractors? Wouldn’t it be more environmentally and socially responsible to spare us the toxicity of herbicides and instead hire workers at a living wage to clear the power line? Dominion or the subcontractor might even invest in appropriate plantings that could be maintained with regularity and contribute to the visual improvement to this primary avenue into our city.

Sincerely, Elena Day

Excellent thoughts, Ms. Day. Just recently I noticed similar evidence of spraying—brown, shriveled foliage—along the road where I live. What disturbed me was that this was mere feet from a small creek. Spots near where kids play are equally bad places to be spraying poison.

Dominion has claimed in the past (in testimony before the State Corporation Commission—look for "John Bailey" if you follow the link) that its use of herbicides "allows the retention of desirable vegetation and the elimination of undesirable, tall, woody plants. The result of selective herbicide applications is increased plant diversity and improved wildlife habitat." Imagine that! Better living through chemistry, even if you’re a bird or a turtle.

I don’t buy it. In any case, Dominion has recently been greening its image (new coal-burning plants notwithstanding) and this would seem to be a potential PR hotspot for them, if they could figure out a better way to keep their lines clear than spraying. Everybody would win.

Anyone else seen evidence of spraying lately, in this season of wild plant growth?

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