Duke Energy suspends program using pesticide to stunt trees' growth

by: Stephanie Coueignoux Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Duke Energy is reviewing its promotional policies, after one of their programs sparked outrage in several Charlotte neighborhoods.
 
Last month, crews began treating trees with a pesticide to make them grow smaller.
 
The pesticide Cambistat was approved by the EPA in 2007. It's injected into the base of a tree to stunt its growth.
 
Duke Energy has used Cambistat on more than 300 trees in Myers Park, Freedom Park and other nearby neighborhoods.
 
A Duke Energy spokeswoman said they wanted to keep trees there from growing into power lines. Tree trimming is very expensive, and those costs go straight to customers. Duke Energy said they were trying to help save customers money.
 
Jane Burts lives in Myers Park. She says she’s concerned about the long-term effects.
 
“If it's going to retard the growth of an oak tree, we don't know what it’s going to do with us," she said.
 
Channel 9 called the company that makes Cambistat. An expert told us he doesn't know its long-term affect on the environment. He said there is a possibility it could get into the water system.
 
The EPA said swallowing it, even touching it is dangerous. They recommend calling poison control immediately. For some people, that's a chance they don't want to take.
 
The chairman of the Freedom Park Neighborhood Association, Victor Ahdieh explains, “Trace amounts of this chemical mixing with trace amounts of that chemical could cause a reaction in our bodies.”
 
The city attorney's office said the city gave Duke Energy permission to treat trees on public property.
 
Some people didn't realize they could say "no" when it came to their own homes. Some people who said "yes" have their own concerns.
 
Channel 9 spoke with a woman who didn't want to go on camera but said the crews misidentified her trees.
 
She asked them to treat two willow oak trees on a certain corner of her property. She says the crew treated one willow oak and one sweet gum tree.
 
Channel 9 also looked at several trees that were treated in the neighborhood. Eyewitness News could not find any identification that would alert people that these trees were treated with Cambistat.
 
Duke Energy's communications team is in Raleigh to discuss their policies. They suspended the program on Monday, and haven't decided whether they will re-launch it.