San Diego

State Sues NCTD Over Weed Spray that Sickens Woman Living Near Railroad Tracks

The state of California is suing the North County Transit District (NCTD) over its failure to maintain accommodations made for an Oceanside woman sickened by the herbicides it uses to kill weeds along its railroad track.

Judy Kane’s home between Oceanside Boulevard and Wisconsin Avenue backs up against the tracks. She suffers from a chronic condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity that is aggravated by the herbicides the NCTD uses to kill weeds on the other side of her fence.

Kane has outfitted her home with hospital-grade air purifiers and always has a mask handy when she's outside. When the NCTD sprays the area behind her home, the side effects of her disease can flare up for weeks at a time.

'”Like even being [outside], I start to get a very bitter taste from the chemical in my mouth,” Kane said. “It goes into my lymph glands."

She is so sensitive to the chemicals that she has to shelter in place for days after they spray.

For nearly a decade, the NCTD refrained from using herbicide in a four-block stretch around Kane’s home. But two years ago, the district decided it would stop using traditional weed whackers in the area and start spraying again.

In a letter the NCTD sent to the state in 2016, the district said in part that it "Cannot reasonably conduct weed abatement by the alternative means of mechanical removal on the (railroad right-of-way) row, as the additional crew, man hours and other resources required for such service is a significant additional cost on the district, above that required for herbicide use."

Kane said that it never seemed to be an issue while NCTD was making the accommodation for her.

“They did it for 10 years and it worked,” Kane said. “There was never an incident, there was never a problem, I never called to complain. It was seamless.”

Just down the road from Kane’s house, a fence separates the railroad track row and public property. One side is maintained by NCTD with herbicides. The other is maintained by the city of Oceanside using weed whackers.

According to the complaint, Kane "Repeatedly asked NCTD to reconsider its decision or discuss other alternatives with her."

She says the NCTD has refused to do so.

NBC 7 reached out to the NCTD about the complaint on Tuesday but it said it would not comment on pending litigation.

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