Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pentachlorophenol Meeting December 4

There will be a public meeting on December 4, at 7 pm at Matthews Center (2701 East 24th St) for Xcel Energy and concerned Seward residents about power poles treated with pentachlorophenol. To learn more, please see the press release from the neighborhood below:


Residents of the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis have raised concerns about the offensive odor and potential health risks of new power poles being installed by Xcel Energy throughout the city of Minneapolis, and specifically in the Seward neighborhood. The new power poles are treated with a chemical mix of fuel oil plus pentachlorophenol pesticide and its by-products, including dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals known to science. These poles are replacing older, damaged poles in residential areas. Hundreds of these poles have already been installed. Up to 600 more are slated for installation in Minneapolis in the near future. The board of the Seward Neighborhood Group passed a resolution in July 2008 opposing the use of these poles in Seward and asking for their removal.

The Seward Neighborhood Group is hosting a public information meeting with Xcel Energy
about this issue on Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 7 p.m. at Matthews Park Community Center, 2701 East 24th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406. Representatives from Xcel Energy, the national Penta Council, and the Koppers Company that supplies the Penta-treated poles to Xcel Energy will present information at the meeting and be available for questions and discussion with city residents.

Pentachlorophenol pesticide is completely banned in 26 countries around the world, and it was banned 20 years ago by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for all over-the-counter applications. Its use as a treatment for utility poles was exempted. Neighbors are concerned about the offensive odor from the special oil used to pressure-inject the pentachlorophenol into the new poles, and the potential for the release of harmful toxins like dioxin into the air and soil.
The Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG) is one of the oldest neighborhood organizations in
Minneapolis. SNG was established in 1960 to make Seward a better place to live, work, and play and is recognized by the City of Minneapolis as the official citizen participation organization within the boundaries of the Seward neighborhood.


At 9:15 AM, Blogger Cam Gordon said...

The The University of Minnesota Consumer Protection Law Clinic and
Brian D. Clark, Jennifer M. Ertel
Anne H. Taffhas,have done expensive research on this issue and recently put out their conclusions and report.

It appears to be an outstanding and well researched report and offers possible alternative to the use of this toxic and dangerous substance to help preserve utilitt poles.

Here is a small portion of the report that summarizes the reports findings:

"G. Summary of Alternatives
Currently, a number of viable alternatives to pesticide-treated wood exist are available in the United States. While pesticide treatments continue to be the cheapest option from a purely cost-of-production standpoint, alternatives like copper naphthenate, ACQ, steel, fiberglass and concrete are becoming more competitive. Savings in maintenance, longer in service lifespan and salvage value (of steel in particular) levels the cost playing field over the long-term. Cost issues aside, there are compelling environmental reasons for shifting away from the hazardous chemicals used in treating utility poles and moving to alternative pole treatments and materials. Steel and fiberglass appear to be the most environmentally sound, and stronger regulatory measures would go a long way to making these options all the more green. By contrast, there does not appear to be a way to retool pesticides to make them environmentally safe.

"V. Conclusion
The studies and materials summarized in this report indicate that penta may cause substantial harm to humans and the environment, either through contact, groundwater contamination or inhalation. There are several reasonable, affordable and significantly less harmful alternatives available to replace penta-treated utility poles."

Please send me an email iof you would like to get a copy of the complete report.


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