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Klukwan Inc.'s recent opinion column makes the case for spraying pesticides on Long Island, but it does so with misleading and inaccurate information. Klukwan downplays the effects that spraying chemicals would have on the people and wildlife that depend on the land and waters surrounding their clearcuts on Long Island. But these effects could be serious.
Folks from Prince of Wales and Ketchikan have hunted and fished in the Long Island area for generations. The porous rocks (karst) and turbulent winds of Long Island assure that sprayed pesticides will drift, perhaps many miles from the alder and berry bushes that they are meant to hit.
And, contrary to what Klukwan says, these pesticides are poisonous. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in one of the chemicals the corporation wants to use, has been linked to cancer in humans, particularly non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Solid, peer-reviewed science also shows that pesticides hurt salmon by, to give just one example, causing hormonal and skeletal deformities in the fish. The state's biologists asked Klukwan not to use R-11 as part of the mix to be sprayed because it is known to be toxic to fish. Klukwan answered that the company would use R-11 anyway because they had already bought it.
Since Klukwan's permit shows that 91 percent of their land on Long Island does not need spraying, shareholders can make money from the huge amounts of land that can be logged without chemical spraying. Also, their forester says areas slated for spraying won't be logged for more than 60 years. So even if the alder is sprayed, it won't benefit today's shareholders or their children.
Though Klukwan's mission may be to make money, the state is supposed to protect us from harm. However you look at it, aerial pesticide spraying in Southeast Alaska is just too risky. By persisting with its application to spray, Klukwan puts its own profits above the health of our fish, wildlife, and neighbors. If it approves the permit, the state fails its responsibility to Alaskans to keep our waters and air clean and healthy.
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council