Stretch of grass near the railway tracks on White Rock beach where grass has died.

Stretch of grass near the railway tracks on White Rock beach where grass has died.

City looking into herbicide damage at waterfront

Stretch of grass near railway tracks died after over spraying

City officials are investigating after a herbicide was mistakenly overused by BNSF crews doing vegetation control on White Rock.

Greg St. Louis, the city’s director of engineering, confirmed Wednesday that he has asked BNSF officials for more information on what happened, after a three-metre stretch of grass along the south end of Bayview Park – adjacent to the railway tracks on west beach – died.

“They confirmed they did it… and it was Roundup,” St. Louis said.

The damage “goes from the boat launch… the length of the park.”

St. Louis said railway crews routinely do vegetation control along the waterfront, and follow ministry guidelines as to its application.

While environmental advocate and Surrey-White Rock Green party candidate Don Pitcairn expressed concern to the city that beach visitors may have unknowingly been exposed to the chemical, St. Louis said he does not believe the public needs to worry.

St. Louis did not know exactly when the over-spraying occurred, but said it typically takes “a week or so” for vegetation to die following a herbicide application.

“I’ve talked to the supervisor and they said they’re gathering information from the spraying company.”

St. Louis said that while he has fielded concerns that the work violates the city’s cosmetic-pesticide ban, that legislation does not in fact apply to businesses.

He noted the area affected is slated for change this year, as part of plans to extend the promenade east to the end of the park.

BNSF officials could not be reached by Peace Arch News’ press deadline Wednesday.

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