OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Pacific Gas and Electric power poles leach carcinogenic preservatives into Bay Area waters, Ecological Rights Foundation claims in Federal Court. The group says PG&E treats its wooden poles with pentachlorophenol, a human carcinogen.
Pentachlorophenol, a preservative and insecticide, can increase the lifespan of a power pole from 7 to 35 years. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies pentachlorophenol as a probable human carcinogen.
The power poles are a “point source” of pollution, and must be regulated under the Clean Water Act, the Garberville-based group says. It says PG&E’s toxic poles have violated the law on every day of significant rain since at least 2004.
The contamination threatens the San Francisco Bay and its tributaries, which includes habitat for endangered species, according to the complaint.
At the very least, the power company should get permits before using the toxic chemical on its poles, the group says.
Represented by Christopher Sproul of Environmental Advocates, the group seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, with civil penalties and costs.