NB Power apologizes over handling of herbicide spraying

NB Power is apologizing to residents following herbicide spraying in rural New Brunswick and is overhauling its policies over how it notifies citizens of upcoming spraying.

Crown corporation is also revamping its policies on how it notifies residents before it sprays herbicides

NB Power is apologizing to residents following herbicide spraying in rural New Brunswick and is overhauling its policies over how it notifies citizens of upcoming spraying. 2:16

NB Power is apologizing to residents following herbicide spraying in rural New Brunswick and is overhauling its policies over how it notifies citizens of upcoming spraying.

The Crown corporation is also issuing a specific apology to a couple, who were woken up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning to the sound of spray trucks rumbling by their open bedroom window.  

"NB Power would like to apologize to Mr. and Mrs. Webb and any other customers who have concerns about our recent herbicide application in the Wirral/Hoyt area," Brent Staeben, a NB Power spokesperson, said in a statement. 

Wayne and Cheryl Webb say they were startled by herbicide sprayers in the early hours and said they had concerns about chemicals drifting through their open windows while the slept.  

"We had no warning," said Cheryl Webb.

"None, no calls, no newspaper ads, nothing. Had I known they were coming I would have done something to stop them. I would have laid on the road." 

Along with the apology, NB Power has announced policy changes regarding how it notifies citizens of herbicide spraying. 

NB Power maintains that it followed all the federal and provincial rules during its recent herbicide spray program.

"We understand that our customers expect much better from us than simply following the rules and so we are making immediate changes to this program going forward," Staeben's statement said.

The changes include an expansion of the buffer zone between spray zones and residences. 

Marie-Andree Bolduc, a NB Power spokesperson, said the buffer zone will go from 15 metres to 150 metres.

"Ninety per cent of our spraying is done deep in New Brunswick woods, but that 10 per cent by home, we want to work with them in that area," said Bolduc.

"We want to work with New Brunswickers across the province to inform them of our practices. Safety is our top priority for our customers and that is our intent here." 

NB Power is also promising to start directly contacting people who live within 500 metres of a spray zone about the herbicides with will be sprayed. The Crown corporation is also promising to give two weeks notice before any herbicide applications in an area. 

The Webbs, however, are not satisfied by NB Power's changes. 

"They're sorry because they poisoned us?" said Cheryl Webb.

"At 5:00 a.m. in the morning? They ruined my land and they're sorry?"  

"I don't want them spraying period," said Wayne Webb.

"It's killing the animals, it's killing the birds. I don't accept the apology." 

NB Power says the herbicide is safe and that it has been approved for use by federal and provincial regulators.

The Crown corporation maintains that a herbicide spray program is necessary to prevent widespread outages