‘Fruitless’ requests to the city, Edison, and the PUC
Southern California Edison and its subcontractor Hampton Tedder Electric are in the process of removing and replacing 89 power poles in Seal Beach. The one in my backyard will be replaced on Dec. 9 according to discussions I have had with Pete Carter of Hampton Tedder.
Edison advises in the information page sent with the monthly billing statement that power poles are treated with chemicals that are known to cause cancer and that even dust or water run off from these poles should be avoided. After reading this and getting no real help from Seal Beach Department of Public Works, I contacted Edison and asked that they provide to me in writing that the removal and replacement of the power pole in my backyard would not result in any environmental contamination or toxic residue remaining on my property. They refused my request and said I should direct my request to Hampton Tedder, which I did on Nov. 1.
I have had several discussions with Pete Carter since, but it appears Hampton Tedder is unwilling to respond to my request also. I filed a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission, but they said they could not help me, but suggested I might try the Department of Toxic Substances. My initial attempt to contact this agency was fruitless.
I have come to the conclusion that my request was possibly unreasonable.
Southern Edison replies
Wood poles are treated to protect the wood from fungal decay and wood destroying pests. If not treated the structural integrity of the pole can be compromised which could result in the pole failing and becoming a hazard to people and property as well as causing a disruption in service.
Many lumber products sold to or used by consumers, including lumber for exterior structural support purposes, such as columns, decking, bridges, fences, guard rails and foundation, are treated with preservative to protect them against pests and ensure long-term integrity of the wood product.
Under California state law (the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65 or Prop 65), SCE is required to warn its customers about the potential to be exposed to the wood preservative used to treat its utility poles. The statement in SCE’s monthly bill satisfies this legal obligation.
Text from SCE’s bills regarding wooden utility poles:
“SCE uses wooden poles that have been treated with chemical preservatives. These chemicals include pentachlorophenol, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer, and petroleum products such as diesel fuel, which contains chemicals including toluene and benzene that are known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. If you come into contact with a wooden utility pole or the dust, debris, and soil previously in contact with the pole, you could be exposed to these chemicals. Avoid contact with wooden utility poles and the dust, debris, and soil previously in contact with the poles.
Thank you to all who fly the American Flag! It is gratifying to see them fly, every day, in honor of so many, and for those that have lost their lives, from international terror and domestic attacks. It is such an easy thing to do. And it means so much to so many. Thank you to the residents of Old Town and The Hill, and to businesses in Seal Beach, who do fly our flag.
Nancy and Tom Hetherington
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