ANCHORAGE - State environmental regulators have approved spraying herbicide along Alaska Railroad tracks, but environmental groups are appealing the permit.
The Anchorage Daily News reports the railroad has permission to spray portions of the track between Indian and Seward to kill brush that could cause a train to derail. The railroad may not spray within 100 feet of a stream or pond.
Seven environmental groups and the village of Eklutna are appealing the permit. They say the Department of Environmental Conservation failed to consider how the herbicide could leach from the track bed and affect salmon habitat and drinking water wells.
State regulators concluded the two chemicals the railroad wants to use - glyphosate and Agri-Dex - will not harm human health or the environment if they are used properly.
Alaska Railroad officials say it has exhausted all other ways to prevent weeds from causing safety problems. The railroad eventually hopes to spray other parts of the 500-mile line, which runs from Seward to Fairbanks and North Pole.