Note that this worker is unprotected from this poison. No eye covering, no mask. Spraying is a shame in many ways.
Why do they do this? Because it’s more expensive to bury the power lines and not have to spray. If they ignore the economic externalities of the poisons, such as poisoning crops, gardens, birds, and bystanders.
Except they’re an EMC, an Electric Membership Corporation, so they’re poisoning their own members. And their unprotected workers, here seen in full spray:
What is he spraying? Well, there was no label visible, but traditionally it’s paraquat. Paraquat is a toxic substance that requires a license in the U.S. (and is banned in Europe). Paraquat is toxic via inhalation, oral, or dermal routes, and also via food, as well as toxic to food crops. The EPA requires this warning label:
“Do not apply this product in a way that will contact workers or other persons, either directly or through drift. Only protected handlers may be in the area during application.”Does that handler look protected to you? Were people driving down the public highway protected?
The worker’s face and name badge are obscure in these pictures, but the company logo on his shirt sure looks like Colquitt EMC, as the location in Brooks County would also indicate. Curiously, there seems to be nothing on Colquitt EMC’s web pages about spraying under power lines.
Pictures and videos by Gretchen Quarterman, Brooks County, Georgia, 10 September 2010; blogged by John S. Quarterman.