Residents protest toxic fumigation of golf course

- The TSA plans to apply Curfew on the golf course on May 9 and neighbors feel like time is running out for them to convince officials to find a different pesticide.

"It's pretty scary. I plan on leaving my house for a week," said Jillian Harber. "We don't want to  take the risk of a pesticide drift coming into our yards when I live directly on the golf course and  I have children and people walk their pets."

Harber and a handful of neighbors voiced their concerns during a protest outside Ramond James Stadium, which is managed by the Tampa Sports Authority.

"People are basically afraid and the aggravating part here is that this is a dangerous substance,"  said Kevin Murdock, who says he has contacted several city leaders. "It seems like no one is willing  to step up and do what they're charged to do, which is to protect the citizens."

Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera, whose district includes the Forest Hills community, said he has fielded several calls from concerned neighbors.

Neighbors from a Tampa community concerned about the use of a controversial pesticide on a nearby golf course protested Thursday afternoon, hoping to stop the planned application of the product next week.

The Tampa Sports Authority plans to fumigate the Babe Zaharias Golf Course, which is in the Forest  Hills community, with a pesticide called "Curfew." The pesticide is injected into the soil to kill nematodes, a microscopic worm that feeds on grass roots. The parasite kills the turf in patches.
 
Curfew, in which the active ingredient has been called a "probable carcinogen" by the U.S. Environmental  Protection Agency, is toxic and the golf course will be closed for 24-hours after the treatment. The product rises from the ground as a gas during that time.

"We went into very meticulous work on this issue, talking to experts, talking to the Florida  Department of Agriculture," Viera told FOX 13.

He asked a representative of the Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission to speak to council members during their meeting Thursday.

Viera said he's comfortable with what he has learned.

"People can rest easy," he said. "Everything that Council can reasonably do with the information that  we have been given on this - pursuant to the label, pursuant to the accepted science - we are doing  to protect the residents out there."

In 2008, the Sports Authority treated the course with Curfew, and some residents claimed it made them sick. They fought using the product in years following. This will be the first year since then that  Curfew will be used to fumigate the course.

The TSA, which has indicated it plans to proceed with the fumigation, sent a statement to FOX 13 that read:

"Curfew, a registered product approved for use throughout the State of Florida by the Florida  Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the United States Environment Protection  Agency (EPA). It will be applied by a FDACS' licensed applicator at Babe Zaharias Golf Course on May 9, 2017.

According to the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission presentation Thursday at Tampa City Council, when Curfew is applied in accordance with the label, by an FDACS' licensed applicator, it should not 'pose any unreasonable risks to human safety or the environment.'

The Tampa Sports Authority has managed Babe Zaharias Golf Course since 1974 and has always strived to make it one of the top courses in the Tampa Bay area. As has always been our practice, we will  continue to communicate with the Neighborhood Association, as we proudly manage this community asset."

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