On March 12th, Beyond Toxics and our partners in the Oregon Conservation Network hosted the first ever Oregon Legislative Briefing on Herbicides and Health. Over fifty Oregonians came from communities across the state to talk to their legislators about gaps in the Oregon Forest Practices Act that leave homes, schools and drinking water unprotected from pesticide drift, run-off and volatilization.
Today, the announcement was made that the Oregon Legislature will take up a bill to address forestry chemical use.
Two courageous Oregon legislators, and seven other co-sponsors, filed a bill to protect the health of rural Oregonians living near industrial forests and farm land. When I first read the text of SB 613, the Public Health and Water Resources Protection Act, my eyes started to tear up. I thought of the heartbreaking journey that pesticide drift victims have traveled to arrive at this moment.
By now, the whole world knows that seven documented bumble bee kill incidents happened in Oregon during 2013-2014. These bee slaughters were caused by applications of neonicotinoid insecticides.
One year ago, on October 16, 2013, people living near the town of Cedar Valley in Curry County could not have known that a helicopter pilot and a forestry consultant would carry out an aerial herbicide application above their homes. The pilot loaded his tanks with a concoction of 2,4D and triclopyr, two potent herbicides with a record of human health risks, and mixed them with petroleum oil. He flew four round trips over a residential area while carrying this chemical soup. As many as 45 residents became mysteriously ill after smelling chemicals fumes and feeling chemicals drop onto their faces.
I just spent a large chunk of the day bent over patches of meadow knapweed with a sickle in my hand. Why in the heck am I spending a day swiping at an invasive weed near a river when I have plenty of weeds crying out for attention in my own yard? I do it because there is a lot at stake in one small, humble project to keep herbicides out of the Siuslaw watershed.
Environmental Justice: Air Agency’s Decisions Disproportionately Impact Minority and Low-Income Residents
We’re just fed up. Beyond Toxics has used all available channels to warn the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) that it is ignoring its duty to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. Now we must turn to the United States Office of Civil Rights to ask for help to ensure that LRAPA follows recognized standards of justice and public health protections for the families of West Eugene.
Here it is summer time, when the flowers and trees are in bloom and jamborees of pollinators are busily buzzing in the flowers. It is also National Pollinator Week, a time to celebrate what bees, butterflies and other blossom-visiting species contribute to a healthy environment.
But we in Eugene, Oregon are mourning the loss of thousands of bees today.
As an Environmental Studies major I’ve gotten very used to discussing issues of injustice and land degradation through a scholarly/objective lens, however I had never drawn these connections back to myself and how they affect me as an Oregonian. Never would I have imagined that a trip out to interview a community affected by pesticide drift – a predominantly middle class, white conservative community in Gold Beach – would connect directly to the working-class Latino-immigrant farmer community I grew up with in the Rogue Valley.
A pesticide helicopter operator was discovered lying to an Oregon rural community about what herbicides he sprayed, how much he sprayed and where he sprayed. Four months ago, Beyond Toxics filed a petition with three federal agencies claiming that not enough was being done to help more than two dozen residents of Cedar Valley, a rural area near Gold Beach on the Southern Oregon coast, who said they had been doused by herbicides from a forestry helicopter. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency for Toxics Substances and Disease Registry stepped in to oversee the state’s investigation.
It started eighteen months ago, when a group of passionate and dedicated bee keepers came to the Beyond Toxics office to talk with us about the bees. They were well informed and brought published studies revealing the role pesticides play in the demise of honey bee colonies.