A 21 CENTURY SUSTAINABLE ENERGY GRID UPDATE, Ban Pentachlorophenol, EAST HAMPTON ENVIRONMENTAL COALITION
BY HELENE FORST
September 28, 2015
The East Hampton Environmental Coalition is made up of 17 environmental groups totaling approximately 6,000 members. As a member of the Coalition, I was proud to be part of the writing process for the East Hampton Green Guide, a publication that summarizes its members’ environmental concerns and offers recommendations for plans of action they hope local politicians will embrace as Election Day approaches. My topic was concerned with a 21st century sustainable energy grid update.
East Hampton is defined by the unique character of its hamlets, villages, and countryside. However the hardening and upgrading of our electric grid has not been harmonious with the unique nature of the existing character of the community.
PSEG-LI’s installation of 65-foot toxic utility poles laden with pentachlorophenol (penta), has contaminated our air, soil, and groundwater, destroying the aesthetic beauty of our residential areas, devaluing our homes, and creating a situation that negatively effects the health of its residents and our environment.
Penta belongs to a class of dangerous chemicals that has left a toxic legacy around the globe. It is classified as a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is highly persistent and migrates down-gradient under conditions such as heavy rains, snow melt, and runoff to potentially contaminate drinking water and surface waters. Cancer-causing chemicals should not be leaking from utility poles into communities.
It’s time for the United States and for New York State to ban pentachlorophenol. There are approximately 1 million utility poles treated each year with Penta. Senator Charles Schumer reported that over 95,000 of these toxic poles have been installed on Long Island. And to our dismay, PSEG-LI continues to harden our electric grid by installing thousands more Penta laden poles.
Soils samples taken near utility poles in East Hampton showed concentrations of PCP more than 300 times New York’s permissible limits for poisonous substances. In a recent water test requested by the Village of East Hampton and East Hampton Town, the groundwater was found to be contaminated with 5 poisonous chemicals that are part of the penta formulation.
• Support the New York State Bills to Ban Pentachlorophenol.
• Recommend that all new electric grid upgrades be placed underground.
• Recommend that composite poles be used when replacing utility poles.
• Support projects that encourage the use of alternative, sustainable energy sources such as
wind and solar.
• Support legislation that requires utility companies to obtain permission from local government
before they can work in a town or village and require the utility to provide a SEQRA before said work.
• Remove all Penta poles along the 6.2 mile route between East Hampton and Amagansett, clean up the contaminated soil, and bury the lines. If poles need to be used, create a pilot program in East Hampton using composite poles.