This is the second installment in my continuing saga of a pesticide application gone wrong. The incident involved a tree care company spraying my neighbor’s apple trees in a strong wind, and the chemical or chemicals (I still don’t know what he was applying) being carried by the wind into my yard, vegetable garden, bird bath and even into my house. You can read the whole sordid tale here.
I decided to make a formal complaint. This is the first time I have done this, and I was interested in seeing how seriously the state took me and how the process worked.
I started with a phone call to the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM). I left a message on Saturday afternoon with someone in the pesticide section of the Division of Agriculture.
On Monday I received a call from a senior plant pathologist, who told me she would come and take my statement. She arrived yesterday, and the process took longer than I had anticipated.
First, I recounted what had happened and she wrote it all out by hand, using carbon paper so I would have a copy. Then, we went out to my back yard and she took samples of hibiscus, potato, tomato and bean plants. These will be tested for chemical residue. The process was quite lengthy, because everything needed to be bagged, labeled and sealed – twice.
She took photos of the wildflower meadow and of my yard and garden. Finally, she drew a diagram of the entire area.
I am not expecting much to be found on the plant samples. It has been six days since the spraying, and we’ve had a lot of rain. However, the pathologist told me that what’s most important are the precautions written on the label of the pesticide they were using, and the wind speed at the time of the spraying. Some insecticides clearly warn the applicator not to spray when pollinators are active. These chemicals should be used only early in the morning of later in the day, when the bees have all gone to bed. She will find out what was being applied when she speaks with the tree care company.
As for wind speed, I checked that myself right after the incident, and it was blowing 14 knots. The pathologist told me that spraying is not supposed to be done in winds greater than 5 mph.
I also asked her if she thought it was wrong of this man to have planted a wildflower meadow to attract pollinators and then spray the heck out of them. She agreed that indeed it was.
So now, I wait. The lab work will take a while, apparently, but she will probably talk to the tree care people before long. I’ll keep you posted.