Local News

Some Environmentalists Say Utility Poles are Poisonous

Posted March 15, 2000

— Utility poles are everywhere -- in our yards and along neighborhood streets. In fact, only two states have more utility poles per mile than North Carolina. Now, one group says the poles are poisoned.

"They're treated with toxic chemicals to preserve the wood, and so the chemicals that are used in this wood are extremely hazardous, some of the most hazardous chemicals known to human kind," says citizen Jay Feldman.

A group of environmental leaders, including the Mayor of Wake Forest, wants utility companies to cut down all of the wood poles and replace them with steel or concrete alternatives.

CP&L spokesperson Mike Hughes does not agree.

"TheEPAstandards are set to protect public health, and the EPA standards are being met in this case," Hughes says.

CP&L says there is no danger associated with the wood preservatives the company uses. Representatives also say replacing all of the poles would be very expensive.

"The cost of an equally-sized and strength power pole made of steel or fiberglass typically is a lot larger than the wood pole, number one, and the cost is considerably higher," Hughes says. "When you talk about 1.2 million poles, [that's] in the neighborhood of $200 apiece. That's a lot of money."

It is money state residents would end up paying in higher bills. It is also money some say would be well-spent.

Environmental groups say their concern about what they call "poisoned poles" came from an EPA study released last year.

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