Roadside herbicide application in Placerville, CA Credit: Credit: Paul Cherubini

Following a two-week investigation into the Aug. 16 White Hall herbicide spraying incident, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has found that no violations occurred.

The application of herbicides took place in the right-of-way along five roads in the White Hall area, but of particular controversy were the methods and locations of herbicide application, as well as a discrepancy as to the chemical Virginia Department of Transportation contractors utilized.

“Based upon the evidence,” VDACS compliance manager Rohan M. Williams said in a Nov. 5 letter, “we are unable to determine that there was a violation of the Virginia Pesticide Control Act.”

That same day, Charlottesville Tomorrow requested the results of the investigation under the Freedom of Information Act.

In that report, Williams confirmed that the VDOT contractor, NaturChem, did not spray Roundup.

“On August 16, 2012, employees of NaturChem, Inc. made an application of DuPont Krenite S,” Williams said.

The confusion seems to have stemmed from miscommunication, according to an Aug. 29 memorandum.

“Mr. Robert Bowen [the safety truck driver] apparently responded to a citizen question,” VDACS pesticide investigator Thomas Burke said. “Mr. Brown supposedly referred to the product by a statement similar to ‘something like Roundup.’”

Albemarle Supervisor Ann H. Mallek, who represents the White Hall district, said that Krenite S should not have been used, regardless of location or method.

“Krenite S is not, as I’ve mentioned before, registered to be used anywhere near water or fields with foodstuffs grown on them or pasture,” Mallek said. “So the fact that they were spraying along the Moormans River and right through the orchards and vineyards was troubling to me.”

Burke said that Mr. Christopher Peacock, the NaturChem applicator, does not spray if a river is “40-50 feet” from the road.

VDACS environmental program planner Jeffrey Rogers verified that contractors did spray Krenite S into the air.

“The purpose of the application,” Rogers said in an October 1 email, “is to inhibit the growth of this plant material out into the road, maximizing visibility and eliminating any higher reaching limbs that may be a hazard to taller vehicles, [such as] school buses.”

On October 10, 2012, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors passed a resolution requesting that the Virginia Department of Transportation notify the county executive and publish a written statement on the VDOT website at least 30 days prior to spraying herbicides along county roads.

In addition to advance notice, citizens will be able to contact VDOT’s call center to have any personal property along right-of-way roads removed from spraying. To ensure these requests are honored, Mallek said that VDOT plans to use a disc system to tell drivers where to start and stop spraying.

“I’m very glad that we do have the resolution that we adopted, so that we’ll be notified as a county before this happens again,” Mallek said.