Klukwan backs off spray permit; will try again

Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Klukwan Inc. has abandoned its proposal to spray herbicides by air on Long Island, but may submit a revised proposal to the state within days.

The Haines-based Native corporation faces strong opposition from environmentalists, Southeast Alaska towns, tribes and fishing organizations over its plan to spray the herbicides Accord and Arsenal by helicopter on 2,000 acres to subdue alder and salmonberries that are competing with second-growth trees.

"There are methods to defoliate that property other than aerial spraying," said Tom McLaughlin, president of the Seafood Producers Cooperative, which is owned by 500 Alaska fishermen.

In an administrative appeal, his group and 27 others said the state also violated its own public-notice requirements when it approved Klukwan's permit this spring.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation deactivated Klukwan's original permit on Monday, said Kim Stricklan, the department's solid waste and pesticides program manager.

At this time, Klukwan still plans to spray pesticides by air on Long Island. Klukwan told the department in a July 11 letter that it plans to submit a revised permit application within 10 days.

Klukwan President Tom Crandall declined to comment, but said in the letter that an amended permit could provide an opportunity to accommodate criticism over public notification for the original permit.

"We aren't going to drop our case unless they do a new, full (permit) application," said Buck Lindekugel, an attorney with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, which is handling the administrative appeal.

"There's a bigger fight here," Lindekugel said, adding that aerial spraying on the lands should be banned.

Crandall informed the state in his July 11 letter that Klukwan now wants to use an additional spraying product, In-Place. The product is advertised on the Web as a method to reduce aerial drift from chemical spraying.

McLaughlin said he worries Klukwan's new application won't alleviate the basic problem.

"We'd still run the risk (of pesticide-contaminated fish). It doesn't make sense to jeopardize the perception of Alaska salmon," McLaughlin said.

Stricklan said DEC hasn't yet evaluated the proposal to use In-Place, but she said it has been used in other states to control aerial drift.

• Elizabeth Bluemink can be reached at elizabeth.bluemink@juneauempire.com.

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