An appeal filed on behalf of the Kitsap Environmental Coalition is calling for more scrutiny of possible environmental impacts from Pope Resource’s plan to spray herbicides from a helicopter.
On July 26, Pope Resources received approval from the Department of Natural Resources to conduct aerial herbicide application on more than 330 acres of timberlands south of Hansville.
KEC has since retained legal counsel with funds generated through a GoFundMe page and intends to fight the approval. Organizers have stated concern over Pope’s intent to disperse a controversial chemical manufactured by Monsanto called glyphosate — the main ingredient in the commercial weedkiller Roundup.
Pope classified the spraying as a Class III forest practice in its DNR application, but the appeal asserts that it should be considered Class IV — a classification subject to stricter State Environmental Policy Act regulations. Any lot size over 240 acres is subject to the more strict regulations, but since Pope has split the 330 acres into two lots — both smaller than 240 acres — it was not subject to them.
By avoiding SEPA, the appeal states, Pope Resources avoided “a vital proOVERSET FOLLOWS:tection for the public to identify and address environmental impacts of projects, both private and public.”
Another issue raised in the appeal is Pope’s intended use of modified vegetable oil. There is a warning in the oil’s safety data sheet that says it should not be allowed to enter Washington’s drains or water courses. The appeal argues that the potential for spray to enter nearby waterways is too high.
“There are fish species identified as Federally Endangered Species for Washington State under the Endangered Species Act in proximity to the operation,” the appeal reads. “These fish species are listed as threatened species, specifically: Salmon, Chinook Puget Sound ESU (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and Salmon, chum Hood Canal summer-run ESU (Oncorhynchus keta) are listed fish species protected.”
During a meeting Wednesday evening, organizers for the group introduced Ellie Kirchner and Nanette Reetz, two leaders from the nonprofit Moms Across America, which has set raising awareness about glyphosate as one of its goals.
At the meeting, Kirchner explained that she lost her sense of taste and smell before developing symptoms similar to fibromyalgia, all as a result of handling large quantities of glyphosate for her job at a garden store.
“I sold a lot of glyphosate. I was one of their best salesmen,” Kirchner said. “I got sick.”
Glyphosate, Reetz said at the meeting, has even been found in the breastmilk of nursing mothers as well as umbilical blood samples from newborns.
“We tested children’s urine and it has glyphosate in it,” Reetz said.
Glyphosate is the main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup and has been at the center of hundreds of lawsuits alleging its link to cancer in humans.
In 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined that glyphosate was probably not carcinogenic to humans. The EPA’s conclusion contested the findings of a 2015 study by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which determined that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
The next meeting of the Kitsap Envioronmental Coalition will be held on Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the Driftwood Key Clubhouse.
— Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.