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DIY Herbicide Use - Expensive lesson

Started by peakbagger, November 29, 2023, 05:00:11 AM

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Owners of $3.5M Maine vacation home are fined $215K for spraying HERBICIDES on next door neighbor's garden, forcing removal of soil and trees to decontaminate it | Daily Mail Online

An odd place for an article about Maine but definitely a really dumb idea. The widow's husband was the richest Maine made person in the state for several year. He spread a lot of it around before he passed on various public projects. My guess the payouts are just beginning.

I am in the process of leasing some land for a right of way and in the lease is a very specific clause that all clearing will be mechanical (no herbicides). Too many folks out there getting their hands on stuff they dont know how to use through back door channels and think more is better. 


Well, he used what has a common name of Spike, which is a notoriously long lasting and restricted use pesticide that kills everything, including trees, in very small amounts.  It's bad stuff, can stay in the soil for up to two years, and he's lucky they didn't get him for groundwater contamination, instead of, I assume just soil remediation.  He either needed a restricted license to use it, or got it illegally.  This is not something to play with.  Among other things, it's used by the railroads to keep their tracks clear of vegetation.  

If he would have used Roundup or any number of non residual herbicides (degrades in 24 hours) he would probably have still gotten sued for killing the his neighbors garden but not gotten in trouble with I assume Maine's department of environmental management.  

In today's green world, he may just have well sprayed radioactive moon dust on the garden.  I bet he's going to get a civil lawsuit against him, and if the neighbors can say they may have ingested some of it, he may be in real trouble.  

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I am and have been a "Certified Applicator" for many years and can buy restricted use pesticides/herbicides.  The training classes cover some invaluable material and I will never have a chicken house.  It is totally amazing what unthinking folks can do.  

It is very similar to firearm use.  Personal carry training covers much more than just answering questions and filling out some forms.
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215k mistake!  YIKES !:o  Does homeowners insurance cover that?  Umbrella policy?  I'd hate to fight that battle. 

It does sound like the pesticide was not legally acquired and not legally applied. 

Is it  odd to buy the pesticide in Missouri and transport it to Maine?  That might be an additional indication it wasn't legitimately acquired. 

Something else just doesn't seem right about applying the pesticide on the neighbor's property.  

A license is required to purchase and apply restricted pesticides.  Pesticide licensing is a state function in NC handled by the Agriculture Extension Service.  Used to be licensing was a local function, take a course, pass the test all at the local office.   Now it requires trip to Raleigh. 
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I would be surprised if someone, somewhere is selling the herbicide online and all they require is a credit card. 

Pure speculation on my part is the neighbor wanted to improve their view by killing the trees. A view of the water or harbor and increase the value of house by 25 to 33 percent. 


As a licensed master applicator I chemically treated exotic invasive plants (Asiatic bittersweet, multiflora, and a dozen others) on a very large property less than 2 miles away from this incident for 17 years before retiring a few years ago. Camden (as well as most of midcoast Maine) has a vocal anti (pesticide, fertilizer,lime, no mow May) presence. Over the years I did field a few questions about my applications - which I always took time to carefully explain. No public inquiry ever escalated beyond my level.
IMHO exotic invasive plants can't be successfully eliminated without pesticides or a standing army of clipping and root pulling laborers.
I'm not equating what this neighbor did - which clearly is a violation but only offering my take on the local attitudes concerning any pesticide application.
Incidents like this do great harm to the ethical, professional and intelligent use of pesticides.

Old Greenhorn

Well, I have read about a lot of ridiculous fines and such for cutting trees (we had one here just a few days or weeks back for cutting his own trees) and I don't see this as that. If the article is accurate, I see the woman as wanting to improve her view and increase her personal pleasure at her neighbors expense. I have no idea if she thought it through as to who would remove the trees when dead nor do I understand her stated logic of poisoning a tree because she thought it was dying, but no matter. She had no idea what she was doing, had no idea of what she was using, and she had no idea how far or long lasting the impact would be. Most importantly, she did it on her neighbors property. The actual property owner has quite the easy case if she wants to bring it, and she should.
As Greenie said, this reflects badly on everyone who knows what they are doing and how to do it correctly. I think Peakbagger is right too. This is a woman of privilege deciding what she wanted, then taking it. Also, as to the fine, it would seem this woman can afford it and much more, she probably won't blink at the money side of it, more the embarrassment will be her punishment. No, her insurance should not cover her acts of trespassing and vandalism on another's property IMHO. Would love to know how this turns out, I'd throw the book at her. Dang citiots.
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Oh Maine can be funny when it comes to things like this.  I have family right down the road and will have to ask for the inside scoop.  What is funny is that these folks get hammered for this and Maine paid Keith Van Scotter even more than that to "coordinate" the cleanup of the bankrupt paper mill he owned.  Yup, something like $300 an hour to show folks where all the spills, dumps, etc were.  
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Peter Drouin

A round here in the last 2 to 3 years. There's an outfit that will come spray for Ticks and mosquitoes in your yard. all legal.
Now we have a few birds around if any. I look around in the trees my feeders, nothing. ::)
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Quote from: Peter Drouin on November 29, 2023, 09:08:29 PM
A round here in the last 2 to 3 years. There's an outfit that will come spray for Ticks and mosquitoes in your yard. all legal.
Now we have a few birds around if any. I look around in the trees my feeders, nothing. ::)
Anything that kills ticks and mossies will also kill every other bug in the area.  No bugs means no food for the birds, so if they aren't secondary poisoned themselves, they would move on looking for food. 
Chemical carpet bombing seldom works out well, it disrupts the whole ecosystem, not just the pest you are trying to control. Targeted spraying / hack n squirt / poison baits etc are often needed to control invasive / exotic species, but even that has to be done carefully. 
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Spike 20P is not registered as a restricted use pesticide, allowing it to be sold this way. What does surprise me is the ad does not say (because of local or state restrictions) that it is illegal to be sold or shipped to AK or AL and to Nassau or Suffolk counties in NY, or that Colorado residents by must also show proof of certification before purchase.
I am a true TREE HUGGER, if I didnt I would fall out!  chet the RETIRED arborist


This is from the manufacturer's label for Spike and probably explains the fine.  

It wasn't used per the directions - restricted or not.

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To add to Ted's comments, not only Federal laws can be broken, but also state laws if they further restrict it's use or application. In a few instances as a licenced and certified applicator I have had to get permission from adjoining properties before making an application in order to fulfill legal requirements.

I am a true TREE HUGGER, if I didnt I would fall out!  chet the RETIRED arborist


I went to the Amazon link and this came up for my address in NH so there is some control of where it gets sold.

This item cannot be shipped to your selected delivery location. Please choose a different delivery location.

How Amazon gets away with this is they are not selling the product, Keystone Pest Solutions, is selling the product and Amazon is "fulfilling" the order. They get sued all the time about this and they argue they are the equivalent of the "mailman" they are not responsible for what is in the package, they just make sure it gets from the seller to the buyer. I see chinese electrical equipment sold all the time through that site that is not legal for installation in the US or in some cases has bogus labeling. BTW in order to keep up free trade, the US has a deal with china( and other third world countries that shipments under a certain value are exempt from any really import export regulations, most of the chinese ecommerce sites seem to use that exception, they just "fullfill the connection between the buyer and seller.

It not just amazon, I have seen employees at hardware stores and home depot recommend products to customers to do things that are contrary to labeling.


Guess I'm further out of da loop than I thought I was since retiring.    :D   Turns out the list of states according to Keystone not allowing shipment has grown to 13.
I am a true TREE HUGGER, if I didnt I would fall out!  chet the RETIRED arborist


At one time in the 70's they (government) blanket sprayed everywhere for spruce budworm. They killed the grackles and the evening grosbeaks, birds under trees or on a dirt road stone dead or flip flopping around and almost dead. That memory was burned into my head when I was aged 6. That stuff was sprayed on yard trees, not just forest.
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