Toxic Wood Treatment In Utility Poles Prompts State Review

Aug 4, 2014

A week after a toxic wood treatment caused the state Public Service Board to order Vermont Gas Systems not to lay pipeline near Vermont Electric Power Company transmission lines, the board is launching an investigation into the use of the chemical on utility poles around the state.

Vermont Gas approached the Public Service Board after the state Agency of Natural Resources brought the potential hazard to the company's attention, and the board ruled that Vermont Gas couldn't proceed laying its pipeline near VELCO lines without first filing a soil management plan.

Now, the board is opening an investigation into the use of the chemical, Pentachlorophenol, on utility poles. The wood preservative was restricted by the Environmental Protection Agency after it was found to be toxic and potentially cancer-causing to humans.

The board called for a "general investigation into the practices of Vermont utilities in using poles treated with Pentachlorophenol." The board ordered companies in control of Vermont utility poles to attend a pre-hearing conference set for 11 a.m. on Aug. 14, 2014 at the board's offices on State Street in Montpelier.