Skip to content

BNSF to conduct glyphosate spraying in White Rock

Railway company uses herbicide known as Roundup for vegetation management
BNSF railroad will be spraying glyphosate – also marketed under the brand name Roundup – along White Rock's waterfront this week (June 10-14, 2024) for vegetation management.

Vegetation management of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks along the White Rock waterfront is planned for this week, an initiative that will involve the use of glyphosate.

On X/Twitter, the City of White Rock posted about the pesticide work, which is scheduled to happen Monday through Thursday (June 10 to 14).

A licensed pesticide applicator will be spraying the gravel ballasts on either side of the railway track with glyphosate, the post noted. Glyphosate is marketed under brand names including Roundup and Vision.

While a municipal ban on cosmetic pesticide and herbicide use has been in effect in White Rock since 2009 and in Surrey since 2011, the bans do not apply to the railway, which is federally regulated. Several other Metro Vancouver cities, including Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby, also have bans in place.

David Hancock, a South Surrey eagle biologist and director of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, was surprised to hear the product is still in use.

"It's just an evil product. They keep saying it doesn't affect people ... it's frightening," he said Monday.

"Anything that can kill a whole bunch of plants is just killing cells, so whether it's killing the ones you want or don't want, it's devastating."

Although Hancock's focus, seven days a week, is on eagles and preserving their habitat, he's a longtime environmentalist as well as an eagle biologist.

"(BNSF waterfront railroad tracks are) a good place to keep away from," he said. 

His comment was echoed heartily by many on social media. 

"Definitely a good idea to avoid the pier this week," wrote one person, in a social media community group.

"Probably why there's no sand dollars in White Rock anymore," speculated another.  

"Glyphosate is extremely toxic," noted one post.

"That's pure poison," commented someone else. 

The City of White Rock post directs followers to a federal Government of Canada website to learn more about glyphosate.

"Health Canada has carried out a rigorous science-based re-evaluation for pesticides containing glyphosate to ensure that they continue to meet modern standards for human health and environmental protection and provide value. The findings are that, when used according to the label instructions, products containing glyphosate are not expected to pose risks of concern to human health or the environment," the federal website states.

Peace Arch News has reached out to BNSF for an interview about the glyphosate use.

Tricia Weel

About the Author: Tricia Weel

I’ve worked as a journalist in community newspapers from White Rock to Parksville and Qualicum Beach, to Abbotsford and Surrey.
Read more