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Tampa council wants golf course to warn of pesticide use

TAMPA — After hearing from people who say a pesticide at a city golf course is making them sick, the City Council on Thursday urged course managers to notify neighbors before using the chemical.

The council also asked the Tampa Sports Authority, which manages the Babe Zaharias Golf Course, to look into using something less toxic.

The Sports Authority has been using Curfew, sold by Dow Chemicals, since 2001 on the course, which winds through a residential neighborhood.

Robert Lawson believes the pesticide has made him and others ill.

"Please make them stop poisoning my neighborhood," he begged the council.

The course is closed to golfers for 24 hours after a Curfew treatment.

But people who live around the course often use it like a city park to walk their dogs or relax and enjoy the scenery.

Ken Sims, the Sports Authority's director of golf operations, said the agency now will notify residents before using the pesticide so they can avoid the area after a treatment.

Sims said Curfew is the most environmentally friendly product on the market to treat nematodes. It also significantly reduces water and fertilizer needs, he said.

Sports Authority officials noted that Curfew is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Agriculture Department.

Council member Linda Saul-Sena countered that plenty of chemicals have been approved and then discovered to be dangerous.

Curfew's warning label says its vapors can cause kidney, lung and liver damage, and death if inhaled. The EPA classifies it as a probable carcinogen. Curfew also has the potential to contaminate groundwater.

The council asked for a report from the county's Environmental Protection Commission on the product.

Debra McCormack vowed to keep fighting until the Sports Authority stops using the chemical.

In other action Thursday, the council:

• Voted to spend $9.4-million on a police radio system that is compatible with systems used by other local agencies.

• Gave final approval to an ordinance that will encourage city contracts with local, minority- and women-owned businesses.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes or (813) 226-3401.

Tampa council wants golf course to warn of pesticide use 06/05/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2008 11:17pm]
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