Brief: PSEG suing Town of North Hempstead

Katie McDermott, Contributing Writer

Last Thursday, PSEG Long Island and LIPA filed a lawsuit against the Town of North Hempstead, and are looking to block an ordinance issued in 2014 because they feel it violates the company’s First Amendment rights.

This ordinance, which was first put into effect in September, requires utilities to post warning signs on utility poles treated with pentachlorophenol, or penta.

Although this chemical is considered to be harmful, it has been approved by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency to preserve wood.  According to PSEG, the chemical can help to extend the life of these utility poles approximately twenty times as long as those left untreated.

“The preservation of the poles is important, but the safety of people is supreme,” said junior Kayla Shafkowitz.

PSEG and LIPA feel the requirement of these warning signs are unfair since they have not been proven to be true. In response to these companies’ arguments, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency says that long-term inhalation can have a harmful effect on a person’s respiratory tract, blood, kidney, liver, immune system, eyes, nose, and skin.

“We are confident that it is legal to require PSEG to warn town residents about the hazards of touching penta-treated poles when they put the exact same warning on their website,” said Elizabeth Botwin, attorney for the Town of North Hempstead.