City of Seward, Health

Alaska Railroad weed mitigation measures, herbicides in city limits

By Russell Stigall,

Dale Lindsey doesn’t see where there is a problem with the Alaska Railroad spraying weed control in Seward.

During the citizen comments period of the Sept. 11 city council meeting Lindsey commented on Resolution 2006-95. The resolution called for the city to oppose “the Alaska Railroad’s permit request to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to spray an herbicide mixture along the railroad right-of-way inside Seward city limits,” according to the council agenda.

Safety really is what is driving this issue, said Lindsey. Clearing the tracks of obstructing weeds and alders is the Railroad’s primary concern.

Lindsey does not agree with the letter written by City Manager Clark Corbridge opposing the Railroad’s herbicide-based weed mitigation measures. Corbridge wrote in his letter that the city did not want the herbicide to taint Seward’s water wells.

The separation between the city’s water supply and where the Railroad’s weeds would be sprayed is sufficient, Lindsey countered.

Corbridge said he sent letter opposing spray based on recommendation by the city. Since then the city has discussed the issue and concern still exist, he said.

“We endanger the city water supply if such spraying is done,” Corbridge.

Corbridge asked the council give direction.

Along with Seward, the Kenai Peninsula Borough passed a resolution against the spraying.

Seward hardware supply stores sell Roundup – a herbicide developed and sold by Monsanto. Would be hypocritical to cut the railroad off from herbicide while everyone else uses their own, said Councilmember Bob Valdetta.

Councilmember Steve Schafer said he does not see how spray would get into city wells. The city’s wells are up on the Fort Raymond area and the railroad will be spraying east of that toward the bay.

Councilmember Dorene Lorenz said she does not see how spray will make a difference.

This issue has stirred up lots of concern, said councilmember Willard Dunham, but he does not see how the spray would get into water. Also, he said he recognizes the Railroad’s need for removal of alders and weeds.

“I am opposed to arbitrarily opposing this without the railroad explaining its intentions,” said Dunham.

Resolution 2006-95 was postponed.



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