City turns tail on plan to poi­son rats

Af­ter ini­tial ap­proval, City Coun­cil backs off on pro­posal to con­trol ro­dents at trans­fer sta­tion with pes­ti­cides

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN BISSONNETTE jbis­son­nette@paw­tuck­et­times.com

PAWTUCKET – The City Coun­cil on Wed­nes­day unan­i­mously de­nied a re­quest for the city to as­sume li­a­bil­ity for the ap­pli­ca­tion of pes­ti­cides on rat bur­rows at the Grotto Av­enue trans­fer sta­tion, with coun­cilors ar­gu­ing that the most ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion to the rat prob­lem at the trans­fer sta­tion would be for the op­er­a­tors to clean up any lin­ger­ing trash.

By deny­ing Waste Con­nec­tions US Inc.’s re­quest for the city to ac­cept li­a­bil­ity, the coun­cil ef­fec­tively told WCI it had no in­ter­est in the ap­pli­ca­tion of pes­ti­cides Ro­zol and Di­trac to rat bur­rows.

The coun­cil last month ap­proved WCI’s ro­dent con­trol plan for the trans­fer sta­tion, which in­cluded the ap­pli­ca­tion of Ro­zol and Di­trac to be ap­plied di­rectly into rat bur­rows on site. A city in­spec­tor had rec­om­mended WCI con­sider applying the two track­ing pow­der pes­ti­cides di­rectly into any rat bur­rows at the Grotto Av­enue sta­tion.

WCI of­fi­cials, how­ever, said they would only con­sider this op­tion if the city were to “ac­cept li­a­bil­ity for this type of ap­pli­ca­tion,” ac­cord­ing to an Aug. 31 let­ter from WCI, be­cause the use of such prod­ucts re­quires a re­stricted use li­cense “be­cause the ap­pli­ca­tion poses haz­ards when used.”

While City So­lic­i­tor Frank J. Mi­los Jr. in a let­ter last Thurs­day told mem­bers of the coun­cil that it would be ap­pro­pri­ate for the city to both hold harm­less and in­dem­nify WCI in their plan to use pes­ti­cides on rat bur­rows at the trans­fer sta­tion, the coun­cilors ul­ti­mately de­cided on Wed­nes­day that they would not ac­cept li­a­bil­ity and would not en­dorse the use of such pes­ti­cides.

District 6 City Coun­cilor Ti­mothy P. Rudd Jr. said “I have a real prob­lem sit­ting here think­ing that I would sup­port chem­i­cals be­ing put into the ground.”

“I’m very con­cerned of the fact that they’ve stated that these chem­i­cals are stronger than the chem­i­cals that are cur­rently out there and there have al­ready been is­sues in the com­mu­nity with pets that have po­ten­tially di­gested the cur­rent chem­i­cals,” Rudd said.

Lo­cal res­i­dent Lynn Farinelli, prior to the coun­cil’s vote, told the panel that one of her dogs re­cently died and an­other pet dog is still sick af­ter com­ing into contact with a rat that was found dead in their yard.

“We now have to tol­er­ate more poi­son in our area be­cause this com­pany is feed­ing the rats all week­end. Fri­day night, my dogs got a rat that they found dead in our yard. By Satur­day morn­ing, my older dog was very sick…” Farinelli said. “Would it or could it be that this was just a co­in­ci­dence, that my dog got sick af­ter com­ing in contact with a poi­soned rat?”

“These rats are tak­ing the bait and dump­ing it all around our area, and I’m go­ing to lis­ten tonight about more poi­son to fix the prob­lem that is be­ing caused by the neg­li­gence at that sta­tion,” she said. “Would you be OK with this in your back­yard?”

Rudd said he would not be in fa­vor of will­ingly putting “more tox­ins into our soil in an area that’s wet­lands, where it could go into our wa­ter­ways … You have chil­dren walk­ing the area, res­i­dents with their pets walk­ing the area. I’m ex­tremely hes­i­tant and ac­tu­ally I’m at that point where I can­not sup­port this ini­tia­tive. I un­der­stand we need to get con­trol of the rat prob­lem, but I think it’s pretty clear, in order to get rid of the rat prob­lem, you need to get rid of the food source. The food source is there in those open bays.”

“I don’t think by pour­ing more poi­son into the ground is go­ing to re­ally fix the sit­u­a­tion. It may kill off some of these rats, but the food source is still there…” he added. “Un­til we can get them to ac­tu­ally clean up the trash ev­ery night, I don’t think we should

be do­ing any­thing more as far as the bait­ing.”

District 5 Coun­cilor Meghan E. Kall­man said she was less con­cerned about the city as­sum­ing li­a­bil­ity and more fo­cused on the “longterm con­se­quences of this kind of stuff.”

“This is our wa­ter source, it goes into the ground. This is a res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood, kids play in pud­dles, that’s what they do, and I’m not com­fort­able with more re­ally toxic stuff in res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods,” Kall­man said.

District 4 Coun­cilor John J. Barry III said the rat prob­lem isn’t spe­cific to the trans­fer sta­tion and the area around it, but is rather be­com­ing “a pan­demic around town, that there are rats in ev­ery neigh­bor­hood now.”

“I’ve got rats all over the Fourth District, I’ve been com­plain­ing about it reg­u­larly…” Barry said. “I think most of us have felt that those bait boxes, we’ve been told that they’re pet friendly and that they’re safe. I’ve had four dead rats in three weeks in the yard be­cause they’ve in­creased the num­ber of bait boxes, but they’re all over.”

“It’s not just at the trans­fer sta­tion. We’ve got an is­sue in the city with rats,” Barry later said. “We’ve got an is­sue in the city with peo­ple not prop­erly putting out their garbage and keep­ing it in bar­rels. We need to ad­dress it, it’s get­ting much worse, rather than bet­ter.”

The call for ro­dent con­trol has been an on­go­ing dis­cus­sion at coun­cil meet­ings since the end of Au­gust, when the panel unan­i­mously passed an amended res­o­lu­tion ex­tend­ing through Fe­bru­ary the op­er­at­ing lease for the Grotto Av­enue trans­fer sta­tion with WCI. The coun­cil’s ap­proval was also con­tin­gent on a “ro­dent im­prove­ment plan” with up­dates to the coun­cil.

Also on Wed­nes­day night, Rudd re­quested that a com­mu­ni­ca­tion be sent to the ad­min­is­tra­tion, re­quest­ing the break­down per house­hold of how much it would cost the city to haul trash to the Rhode Is­land Re­source Re­cov­ery land­fill in John­ston.

“We’ve had meet­ings where num­bers have been thrown at us, but I’d like to see the break­down per house­hold on that cost per year on the tax rate, that way we can give the peo­ple of the city a bet­ter idea of how much it ac­tu­ally would be at the end of the year on their tax rate,” Rudd said.

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