Hall Coalition in the News
tied to dead birds found in water
(Press Democrat, 1/21/01)
pesticide linked to the deaths of about 400 birds in and around
a Geyserville vineyard has been detected in ground water on
the site, raising concerns about the potential for future contamination
of neighboring residential wells, officials say.
drinking water for about 80 families who live in the nearby
Vineyard Estates subdivision tested free of the pesticide Nemacur,
which was applied at Klein Family Vineyards in November.
Samples from nearby agricultural wells also were clean.
it's not yet known if -- or where -- toxic chemicals are migrating
in the ground water, said Bob Tancreto, an engineer with the
North Coast Water Quality Control Board.
part of what has been required of the property owner,'' he said.
"They have to find out.''
the meantime, he said, testing of residential wells will continue
to ensure they remain unpolluted.
the active ingredient in Nemacur, is an organophosphate, a class
of chemicals originally designed to function as nerve gas in
World War II.
is toxic to wildlife and to human beings when ingested orally,
inhaled or absorbed through the skin, according to the Environmental
Protection Agency. Acute poisoning can cause symptoms ranging
from tremors and lack of coordination to toxic psychosis, unconsciousness
and ultimately death in the most serious cases.
of the pesticide, which was applied more than 80 times in Sonoma
County during the past two years, has been suspended in both
Sonoma and Mendocino counties pending completion of an investigation
into the Geyserville case.
District Attorney Jeffrey Holtzman, who will be deciding if
civil or criminal charges are warranted in the case, said the
public would have been alerted if drinking water had appeared
very serious, and the people who are dealing with it understand
that it's very serious; but that doesn't mean that you throw
out the window a careful analysis of what's found, and I think
that's what's taking place here,'' he said.
who were advised early this month to start drinking bottled
water, were alarmed, however, said environmental activist Lynn
Hamilton, who has fielded calls from some of them.
neighbors are scared to death. That's what they told me,'' said
Hamilton, founder of the Occidental-based Town Hall Coalition.
used to combat tiny parasitic worms called nematodes, was applied
through a drip irrigation system to about 30 acres of wine grapes
near River Road and Highway 128 outside Geyserville last November.
neighbors reported a die-off of songbirds to the state Department
of Fish and Game and other agencies, which subsequently determined
the birds likely died after drinking or bathing in contaminated
puddles of water.
of water in an irrigation well from which water was pumped to
apply the pesticide later turned up "an extremely low level
... right at the threshold, probably, of detection,'' Tancreto
has not been determined whether the well was contaminated directly
or through soil percolation, he said.
finding prompted warnings to residents by Jerry and Virginia
Gill, who manage the Vineyard Estates Mutual Water Company,
a delivery system run and supported by residents of the subdivision.
notice included with water bills early this month warned customers
of contamination at the vineyard site and advised them to drink
bottled water. It seemed ``the prudent thing to do,'' Virginia
notice sent out last week after testing showed the water was
clean said it was now safe to drink, but added that it will
be periodically tested to ensure it remains safe.
only way we'll be able to tell that is with continued testing,
which we certainly plan to do at reasonable intervals,'' Virginia
was applied by Vino Farms Inc., which manages some 4,000 acres
of wine grapes in Sonoma and Napa counties. Klein Family Vineyards,
which hired Vino Farms, owns Rodney Strong Vineyards and Winery.
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