MS Power's vegetation management program comes under fire in BSL

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Chemicals being used to kill vegetation around Mississippi Power's power lines and poles in Bay St. Louis has some residents and city leaders, steaming.

Mississippi Power said it has to be done to prevent trees and brush from growing on or even worse falling onto power lines.

Residents said Mississippi Power's herbicide spraying program has left the view along the roadsides in their neighborhood a mess. They said the burnt looking foliage is extremely unsightly.

"It's pretty powerful stuff to do this type of damage," said Bay St. Louis resident Michael Jeffries.

Jeffries said the defoliant was sprayed behind his home about three weeks ago.

"I'm concerned about the health of my family I'm concerned about the residents around here and also our pets. Our cat plays in these very woods that we're looking at here, our neighbor's cat does the same thing. In the evenings the pets come inside. There is a high possibility they are bringing in residue on their paws their fur," explained Jeffries.

City leaders are concerned too.

"We're not at all happy with what they've done with the herbicides in trying to control vegetation in our right of ways," said Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame.

A Mississippi Power spokesman told WLOX News the chemicals used to kill trees and brush are FDA and EPA approved.

"Environmental compliance is a major priority for Mississippi Power, which is one of the reasons we hire licensed and qualified contractors, who specializes in spot spraying. They adhere to all standards and regulations," said Mississippi Power spokesman Keith Guillot.

"It's just too harsh. It's too harsh to the view in Bay St. Louis. It's too harsh to the environment and there are times when the over-spray goes onto private property and effects private plants. And we're just not going to allow it," said Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame.

Mississippi Power said trees falling on power lines is the number one cause of outages.

But residents and city leaders said he environmentally friendly way to do it is to physically take the foliage down with axes and chain saws.

Mayor Fillingame said, "We've actually spoken to their representatives today and we've told them if they plan on doing any more in Bay St. Louis to not do it. To cease and desist what they are currently doing or there is going to be an issue."

Mayor Fillingame said he plans to talk to city councilmen about creating a city ordinance to outlaw any herbicide spraying on public rights of ways with-out pre-approval.

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