Glyphosate and Cancer
To the editor:
Re “Killing Weeds With Herbicides Is ‘Last Resort’ ” [Aug. 18, front page]: There is no question that the reed grass Phragmites australis is a problem for lakes, streams, and marsh habitats, choking out native plant species. But the plan by the National Park Service to rid six kettle ponds in Wellfleet and Truro of the invasive weed by using glyphosate raises serious environmental and human health questions.
For one, there is a great body of evidence demonstrating that glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) such as Roundup are toxic to many organisms, including plankton, protozoa, and crustaceans, that are at the base of aquatic food chains; as well as to fish, amphibians, earthworms, and birds. Any plan by the National Park Service should include long-term monitoring of life in and around the treated ponds, as glyphosate can persist for many months in water and soils.
But of greatest concern, GBHs have been designated by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer as “probable human carcinogens.” Extensive research has shown that they cause malignant tumors in multiple anatomical sites in a variety of experimental animals and an increased incidence of human non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of white blood cells that is lethal for more than 20,000 people in the U.S. each year.
Most of Cape Cod’s landscape is composed of outwash plains from glacial deposits. With their high concentrations of sand and gravel, these soils allow pollutants to spread easily and widely, making the Cape’s groundwater notoriously vulnerable to contamination.
Any plan to apply GBHs to these kettle ponds must include long-term monitoring of well water surrounding the treated ponds. Those who live and vacation there deserve no less.
Eric Chivian, M.D.
The writer is founder and former director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.
Editor’s note: Cape Cod National Seashore plant ecologist Stephen M. Smith reported late on Tuesday, Aug. 23 that the National Park Service has determined that the use of glyphosate in the kettle ponds “will in fact not be necessary based on the circumstances of our populations.”
Peake and Public Service
To the editor:
I strongly support state Rep. Sarah K. Peake’s re-election for many reasons. She is a leader on the environment, climate change, women’s reproductive rights, transportation, the blue economy, and housing, to name a few important issues. But there is another very important reason I will be voting for Sarah — her dedication to constituent services.
You might have a problem with a state government agency or program, such as difficulty receiving unemployment benefits, navigating Mass Health for health-care coverage, or with any health-care business like Blue Cross Blue Shield, or issues with the RMV. You might have issues with Eversource. You might not understand how important it is to have someone on Beacon Hill who is willing to help you get access to government agencies and programs to solve your problems, someone who is your voice in state government. Sometimes we forget that a great amount of our state representative’s time is spent helping people with their individual problems. It is hard work that is very rewarding.
From the first day she took office, Sarah has committed herself and her office to taking care of her constituents who trusted her to represent them. How do I know this? I was Sarah’s chief of staff since 2007 before retiring last year.
Sarah is a leader who truly understands how important it is to serve the public. Please join me in voting for her on Sept. 6.
Dorothy M. Smith
For Stanton, the Challenger
To the editor:
Although I’m not enrolled in any political party, I’ve asked for a Democratic ballot in the Sept. 6 primary so I can vote for the insurgent candidate for state representative, Jack Stanton, who is challenging the entrenched incumbent, Sarah Peake.
This is a classic David vs. Goliath clash. A veteran politician is being challenged by a “climate radical” less than half her age. She dismisses systemic change as “not ready for prime time.” He grasps the urgency of this moment and is determined to slow our rush toward regional and planetary suicide.
Rep. Peake is part of the tight leadership group that serves the Speaker of the House. That group is the most regressive force in the State House, dedicated to maintaining secrecy and discipline. Peake has opposed measures that would give legislators and voters 72 hours to read bills that emerge from the Speaker’s office instead of 24. She opposes releasing committee votes on key legislation. As a tested loyalist, she helps the Speaker maintain one of the most opaque legislative regimes in the U.S.
In 2018, Rep. Peake defended the Speaker’s use of tax money to pay off women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted by legislators in exchange for nondisclosure agreements. She said that payoffs and nondisclosure agreements actually benefit victims.
It’s valuable to have a legislator from your neighborhood who’s powerful. But if proximity to power means participating in an antidemocratic leadership clique, the price isn’t worth it.
Jack Stanton is rebelling against get-along, go-along politics. Peake refused to appear with him in public until five days before election day.
I’m from the same generation as Rep. Peake. I say: vote us out! We made a mess of the world. Maybe the next generation can save it. The standard-bearer for that generation is Jack Stanton.
Parking System Woes
To the editor:
It is time for Provincetown to hire either a parking consulting firm or a professional person with expertise to address the issues that plague our various parking lots, especially the MacMillan Pier Lot (MPL), and oversee the successful installation and operation of an automated parking lot system.
The town has implemented three or four new parking management systems in the past few years, none of which has performed as expected — including the present system. Each year we are subjected to a new untested system, and it isn’t until midsummer that its shortcomings come to light.
The present system — at least at the MPL — does not read stickers or license plates as it should, and at times no one can enter the lot because it will not issue a ticket, and no one is around to open the gate.
Until the system is operating properly, the town should reinstitute the tried and true method of staffing the entrance and exit with people.
Any new system should recognize stickers that are already paid for and should be tested for accuracy and functionality before the pay-for-parking season begins.
I realize the parking dept. is a big money maker for the town and it is heresy to question its operations, but leadership and accountability are certainly lacking in this department. Something should be done to improve its performance.
James E. King
Provincetown and Stanfordville, N.Y.
A Lot to Be Thankful For
To the editor:
Too often, the people who maintain and protect our public infrastructure are called out only for system failures. I’d like to express deep appreciation for both the Truro Fire Dept. and Eversource Energy.
Around 9 this morning there were three loud explosions outside our home that knocked out our power, each coming with a flash of orange and a cloud of smoke. Before we could decide who to call, the fire dept. was here and, within an hour, Eversource had come, cleared the lines, and restored our service.
This just a week after the heroic efforts of the Provincetown Dept. of Public Works to bring the sewer system back online before Carnival. I’d say we have a lot to be grateful for on the Outer Cape.
Truro and Cambridge