Green Party leader demands better pesticide regulation after spill not far from home

Ron Ryder
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Sharon Labchuk says her party would prefer the province go to organic agriculture, but as long as chemical sprays are used they must be controlled

Green Party leader demands better pesticide regulation after spill not far from home

The head of P.E.I.'s Green Party is demanding tougher regulation of pesticides following a spill she says threatens the safety of drinking water in her community.
Sharon Labchuk held a news conference Friday to say she was dissatisfied with the resolution of a court case that saw Kinkora potato growers Emerald Isle Holdings fined $5,000 after one of its sprayers leaked chemicals into ground down the road from Labchuk's Millvale home.
In court this week, the farm pleaded guilty to letting pesticides drain from its equipment, agreeing that some 95 litres contaminated soil last September before the leak was discovered and contaminated soil removed.
Labchuk, who first discovered and reported the spill, said she thinks the province should do a lot more to tighten up pesticide use. She said she and her party would rather see the entire province move to organic agriculture, but for as long as man-made chemical sprays are used they should be tightly controlled.
Flanked by neighbours and Green candidates Jamie Larkin and Denise Reiser, Labchuk demanded a multi-pronged approach to sprays.
She said all spraying equipment should be inspected annually, that sprayers should never be driven or transported on highways while containing chemicals and that sprayers should not be allowed to sit idle in fields while they contain chemicals.
"If there are chemicals in them, take them back to your place and put them on an approved pesticide-spill pad," Labchuk said, adding she has been told there are portable spill pads on the market that could provide some safety when machinery is left in the field.
To improve enforcement of pesticide rules, Labchuk said she'd like to see fines increased, to see pesticide users held liable for any damage and to have the laws changed so there is a legal requirement to report any spills.
Sigrid Rolfe, a 30-year resident of Millvale, said she has never had any contact with either the farmer who uses the affected field across from her home, nor from provincial Environment or Health officials. She said for most off that time the land was used as pasture, only switching to cash crops in the past decade.
"Like most Islanders I have concerns about the impact of pesticides on our air, on our water and on our environment," Rolfe said. "This whole incident brought it very close to home for me."
Angelica McKann said she and her family moved to Millvale in part because the hilly country there seemed like a place where they would be safe from potato sprays.
"It's very disturbing that this has happened near us," she said. "I find myself astonished and upset that there isn't more concern for the children on P.E.I."

Organizations: Green Party, Emerald Isle Holdings

Geographic location: Millvale, Kinkora

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Recent comments

  • scared
    June 21, 2010 - 20:40

    Isn't this a scary story. What about our precious kids who will drink our water , eat our food and be exposed to such poison all their lives? I think the sad part is that most people think if we don't know, or don't check it out, it can't hurt us . Guess what ? Ignorance is not bliss !!!!

  • maureen
    June 21, 2010 - 20:33

    Those farmers whom you state are slowly killing us are also FEEDING US on a daily basis. So instead of attacking the farmer who is simply trying to protect his/her livelihood, how about we try to figure out a cost effective pesticide-free way to keep out-of-control disease and resilient bugs from destroying these farmers' massive crops....which as I said earlier keep you and I from starving to death. I agree that too many pesticides are in use, but it is government that needs to implement change...the farmer is just trying to survive....think before you write. Thanks

  • Jamie
    June 21, 2010 - 20:28

    Eaten lately? Thank a farmer.
    I grew up and still live in rural PEI. I have worked on many farms and for the most part they are excellent stewarts of the land.
    I believe that if we did follow a systematic approach over the next 15 years, we can slowly work our way towards an Organic PEI
    Let us explore other options and find a solution that is good for everyone.
    It is possible if we work together.
    Let PEI set an example for the world to follow!!!

  • Sherry
    June 21, 2010 - 20:28

    Thanks Sharon. You're doing a great job. I'm with you on this pesticide issue and on the organics. This island could benefit so much by actually becoming The Gentle Island . Gentle on the environment.
    Vote Green!!!

  • Will
    June 21, 2010 - 20:27

    Well; quite an end to the day's comments.
    Sharon is on the money; she's willing to
    address the issues frankly and, unfortunately,
    there are a few who just will not face the
    scientific evidence. We can only hope, and join in, as she does, to try and get people's attention
    about this serious problem.

    Farmers want to farm, people need to eat
    and the chemicals are leaching into the
    water. It's easy to say their are trade-offs,
    but, in the end, the trade-off is the health of
    the island and its people. The evidence is a no brainer. The implimentation is more difficult,
    but is and must be rapid, major policy changes
    and legislation.

    It would be ideal if agri-business could easily see the need to change and enact the changes; but most will not step up to the plate quickly enough
    as it will require much change on their part.
    And that is why a mandate will need to come
    from the people, through lobbying and legislation.

    There is much to clean up on PEI; but there is
    such great potential for that possibility, with
    folks like Sharon who are willing to commit
    themselves to speaking out and offering their
    abilities to bring that needed change.

    Listen to the messengers, rather than mocking
    those who are only looking ahead and putting
    themselves on the line to make the island a
    better place.

    The island is your home; the future is your
    children and you must do everything in your
    power to protect both very quickly.

  • Kathy
    June 21, 2010 - 20:26

    Dan the man from ON - Why don't you move down here, watch your children get sick, and then see how haughty your comments are then! How dare you sit there in your upper Canadian home and rant about things you know nothing about? Do you think we admire you just because you are Dan the Man? More like Dan the Moron!

  • Jamie
    June 21, 2010 - 20:23

    Thank you Dan The Man for your input. I wish I was a gifted as you.

    Warrior, if you need a definition, feel free to give me a call.

    Thanks RJD!!!

  • Big R
    June 21, 2010 - 20:16

    Well at last No. 21 Maureen is the only sane thought in the whole list----and Dan was ok until he blew it!--what damage was really done ? I see no test results or evidence that the water was tainted----that is the trouble with the Green party, they go off on a tangent without sufficient thought. Just check the Green leaders comments of a couple of days ago--they have nothing to lose so they can say anything...

  • Gerald
    June 21, 2010 - 20:13

    Thanks Sharon. We have a water issue here in Alberton and our goverment has failed to do anything. I guess they think everyone will forget . We need someone in goverment who cares and hopefully we will have a few Green Members this time. Thanks again Sharon and anyone else who helps with this important issue

  • EM Wheatley
    June 21, 2010 - 20:10

    Is hair dye harmful to the environment? Is the Green Party concerned with the dye getting in the groundwater? Are there any Green Party members using hair dye?

  • Kyla
    June 21, 2010 - 20:09

    The easiest thing to do is leave PEI and let the nuts like the poster in #31 and #33 get sick from their own pollution, then there won't be a tax base available to provide health care funding and they die a horrible painful death, thanks to their support of environmental mis-deeds.

    Wiping my hands of Prince Edward Island (home to 8 generations of my family)....

    Thanks Mr. Binns! (sarcasm dripping heavily)

  • Steve
    June 21, 2010 - 20:07

    Some parts of PEI are just outright cancer clusters, owing to all the pesticides and crap that farmers use on their fields. They also get into the water table!

    I don't agree with much of what the greens say, but I hardly blame her for making a stink about this.

  • Jamie
    June 21, 2010 - 20:05

    Great comments Will from Maine.

    PEI has the opportunity here to go organic & Brand itself has organic.
    Where would you rather live or vacation, PEI today with our higher than average disease rates and nitrate levels or an ORGANIC PEI of tomorrow where the air is fesh and the water is safe to drink.
    It is time for a change VOTE GREEN May 28

  • This ilk is making my fac
    June 21, 2010 - 20:04

    Rubber Boots.
    Dirty, dyed hair.
    Socks and Sandals

  • Stephen
    June 21, 2010 - 20:02

    What we have in Sharon Labchuk is someone way ahead of her time. She was talking about and protesting against chemicals in PEI before it became the au courant topic. Some of her events have been sensational and later copied by Alanis Morrisette. However, sensational stunts get media attention. Now the problem she predicted has come home to roost. The pristine Island has chemically tainted water. Kudo's to the pioneer.

  • Jamie
    June 21, 2010 - 20:01

    Sharon Labchuk is a warior, fighting on behalf of all Islanders. Ghiz said that the water quality issue is one of the most important issues of the campaign. Well, he is wrong, it is the MOST IMPORTNAT issue of the election.
    This is the defining issue! The health & well being of Islanders comes before all.
    Thank you again Sharon, for fighting for us.

  • anita
    June 21, 2010 - 20:00

    GOOD WORK SHARON LABCHUK some one has to keep these FARMERS gone wild!!!! undercontroll it seems that no one else can these farmers are slowly poisioning us again thank you sharon

  • Joe
    June 21, 2010 - 20:00

    Great work Sharon. If only other politicians were as proactive as you on this issue. Instead, it appears if the main parties are elected, we will be studied to death - literally because they will do nothing to actually stop the continued poisoning of the island but only hide it or put out Green license plates. They should be ashamed of the license plate scam trying to portray PEI as a the Green Isle when the truth is we are The Toxic Isle . Maybe they will get sued for false advertising.
    Maybe it's time for educating the public on what to watch for and how to report any infractions. Obviously this would be the only way to enforce any regulations.

  • Sober Second Thought
    June 21, 2010 - 19:59

    Thank you Sharon for tackling this issue as so many other important issues.
    Fortunately she is not as single minded as Mark from NS and most of our current government, who generally think about only one or two environmental issues at a time.
    Dan The Man from ON, why don't you come down here and bring your kids, if you have any; there is a nice little stream at the bottom of the hill below where the spill took place . You can gather some water and give it to your kids to drink for the next few years. But then, someone who thinks spelling is more important than our limited groundwater may just do so.

  • Jamie
    June 21, 2010 - 19:58

    Hi EM,
    As a Green Party Candidate, I can honestly say I have never used hair dye :- .

  • An Islander
    June 21, 2010 - 19:57

    Great job Sharon for continuing to soldier on and for having the patience to wait for the rest of us to catch up with your wisdom. For those of you who don't agree and think this is a farse, you didn't read the article closely enough: In court this week, the farm pleaded guilty to letting pesticides drain from its equipment, agreeing that some 95 litres contaminated soil last September before the leak was discovered and contaminated soil removed.

    Wake up and stand up for your health PEI. There are great farmers out there who are making the effort to consider the environment, but it is those who don't care about future generations that need to be held accountable.

  • This ilk is making my
    June 21, 2010 - 19:56

    Lets start by banning cars and trucks. People can walk to work and use oxen to farm.

    What a bunch of nuts.

  • Sober Second Thought
    June 21, 2010 - 19:54
    Here are some links for you to read, 21.
    maureen from ontario.
    Think before you read yourself. There b are /b ways to farm large scale organically. There b is /b a better way to do this.
    We b have /b some organic growers here. Anyone I know wouldn't eat a non organic PEI potato in their right mind.
    I don't know where people got this myth that it's impossible to farm organically.
    It's just not possible the same way as most potatoes are farmed right now.
    21...we should try to work our way up, step by step, to being a strictly organic province.
    ...totally agree with you there.

  • JD
    June 21, 2010 - 19:53

    Well I never thought I would agree with Sharon Labchuck But I have to agree with her on this issue. Farmers definitly need to be brought under control. They polluted this province beyond recognition. For years no Government or Political Party have the spine to stand up to them. Now they have NO choice because their lack of inaction has left us with water that is barely even safe to consume. I can't believe it that a farmer can spray a field with 50 ft of your house and never has to tell you that he will be applying chemicals before hand. It is time the Island Farmers start to realize that Farming is NOT the Biggest industry in PEI anymore and they represent a very small block of votes. The Parties need to understand this and if they can't or won't realize it than maybe we need to remind the Parties just who they actually do work for...US. NOT just the Farmers.

  • Dan
    June 21, 2010 - 19:53

    95 litres of a pesticide diluted at more than 100:1 with water and we get a crying mother giving a victim impact statement. Get a life. Just more of Lobchuks theatrics.

  • Brian
    June 21, 2010 - 19:53

    Thank you Sharon, for doing such a great job, on the island, trying to save us from all the farmers that are slowly killing us, please continue to keep up your excellant work, I hope to see you as leader of our island some day!!!!!!!

  • RJD
    June 21, 2010 - 19:50

    Good job Sharon! I completely back everythnig you have noted.
    On the other hand, farmers who DO take measures to prevent this from happening should also be kutoed! It seems unfair that everyone now goes against EVERY farmer.

    and also to 'Dan the man', very mature. Missing a letter in a word obviously makes you 30 steps lower in the IQ scale[/sarcasim]. A typo changes the world!!!...ops, maybe just the word.

  • Will
    June 21, 2010 - 19:48

    #31: This thread started in response to an
    article about leaking fertilizers leaching into the
    groundwater; one single issue. It's too easy to
    just cast your baited line out into the air; take the subject all the way to banning cars and call
    anyone who wants to make their home more
    healthy, a nut. It's just a cheap shot.

    Take change one step at a time; but take it.
    There's a saying that you've probably heard:
    If you're not part of the solution; you're part
    of the problem. You may catagorize Greens
    as a problem; but then what exactly would your
    solution be?

    Would you say that there is no problem with chemicals leaching into the island's groundwater
    to the point where it becomes measuable as
    being toxic? The proof is already there in some
    places, and wouldn't it follow that the same will
    occur in other island watersheds where their is
    agricultural fertilizer runoff? We already know
    that too.

    Rather than turning a sickly green , how about
    reading up on some of the documented information that's out there. A change in attitude is 95% of what it takes to begin making the changes. It doesn't matter who you (any of us) are; it's still all about education and problems are solved one step at a time.

  • maureen
    June 21, 2010 - 19:47

    an organic pei is a great idea as is voting green, BUT the green party is going to have to get some more realistic ideas for change. Lets face it organic is not easy and its going to take a lot of convincing and time to get people to go along with it....don't be realistic and maybe people will get on board. Even small changes will make a big difference, so we should try to work our way up, step by step, to being a strictly organic province.

  • Mark
    June 21, 2010 - 19:46

    Very hard to take Lanchuk seriously. Every day she has a new issue, pick one and run with it.

  • Will
    June 21, 2010 - 19:45

    Thanks to Sharon and the many, many others
    who are working to be good stewards of the island.
    Advocating for change is about education, and
    that will always be an ongoing process. Consensus building is the tool that will get the most people working towards this goal; to make the island a place where future generations can live their own healthy lives.
    It takes one level of community effort to
    build a playground, but the same process of
    working together is needed to save an island's watershed. It is an honorable and necessary goal.
    It is easy to belittle the messenger, but at each day's end we might all just ask ourselves what we have done to help insure a hopeful future for our children, and their children to follow.
    Who matters more than than the children?

  • margaret
    June 21, 2010 - 19:43

    Keep up the much needed work Sharon Where is the environment protection in ths. So much for the Gentle Island way of a healthy life.

  • JL
    June 21, 2010 - 19:43

    #4 .... br br Just like Binns and Ghiz pick their idiotic issues? br br Lemme see, Ghiz is all for giving lawyers lotsa work like his pappy did - royal commissions out the ying yang. br br Then we have good ol' country-boy Saskatchewanian Binns who likes to spend other people's money WITH NO FINANCIAL CONTROLS...... Polar, Little Christo's, beef plant - you name it. Plus he gerrymandered the electoral boundaries AND he interfered with a plebescite by invoking super majority. Binns is more a liberal than Ghiz - he has no ability to be a strict financial conservative. br br In short PEI has 2 losers who will become premier, while important issues like the ones Ms. Labchuk raises (which will affect our health for decades) go unnoticed by the back room silliness of the Liberal and PC parties. br br Why is it that idiots in PEI vote for losers like Binns and Ghiz ? br br Oh yeah, I forgot 'My mommy and daddy always voted Liberal/PC, so I must vote Liberal/PC, because I'm so stupid that I can't think for myself. br br Way to go #4 - you're cut from the same idiotic limited gene pool that 90% of voters in this province hail from.

  • Dan The Man
    June 21, 2010 - 19:41

    What is a warior? I guess Green Party candidates don't have to know how to spell. You certainly won't have to know how to count too high on election day.

  • Donnie
    June 21, 2010 - 19:41

    Thanks Sharon.

    Someday more will realize that you are on the right track, because there are better ways to farm in environmentally sustainable ways that cause less potential harm to the environment and to health.
    Islanders seem to worry about pop cans in ditches causing environmental harm But, they only look bad. We avoid road salt, because it contaminates wells. But, some pesticides (and spray methods) cause harm at very low concentrations? Remember, many chemicals that they used to say were fine, are now banned.

    Many cities now ban many unecessary pesticides. lsanders seem to take pride in the PEI environment. Question: Is it really earned, or a myth?

  • Heather
    June 21, 2010 - 19:40

    Well it is obvious that Mark in post #4 and Dan in posts #10 and #13 are representative of the limited thinking that occupies Islanders who are complacent about the world around them.

    But if I took away your drinking water for a few days, or plopped you down in Love Canal, NY (which is what rural PEI is becoming), then you wouldn't be so quick to complain about the rise in green politics, now would you?

    It is high time that someone like Ms. Labchuk made it into the legislature and actually fought for issues affecting everyday Islanders, instead of the pathetic theatrics that the Liberals and PC's are doomed to repeat for us for an eternity under Ghiz and Binns.

    The current gov't and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition just don't have any credibility on such issues, but people like Mark and Dan will blindly vote for them, like sheep being led to the slaughter.

    A shame.

  • Me
    June 21, 2010 - 19:34

    Bravo Maureen on #21!! you are so right. It is people like Sharon Upchuck that get the ball rolling in the wrong direction!