AUBURN – Auburn University today confirmed that an herbicide commonly used to kill trees was deliberately applied in lethal amounts to the soil around the Toomer’s Corner live oaks on campus, and there is little chance to save the trees. More information and ongoing updates as to treatment and prognosis are available on this site. The City of Auburn Police Division is investigating the situation, and the application of this herbicide, known as Spike 80DF, or tebuthiuron, is also governed by state agricultural laws and the Environmental Protection Agency. The university does not use Spike herbicide. There is no reason to suspect any human danger from the herbicide, which manufacturer Dow Chemical says should be applied with proper clothing protection; a typical use of the herbicide is to kill trees along fence lines. The university learned that a caller to The Paul Finebaum Show, a nationally syndicated radio show based in Birmingham, on Jan. 27, claimed he had applied the herbicide. As a precaution, soil samples were taken the next day and sent to the Alabama State Pesticide Residue Laboratory on campus for analysis. Due to a small fire that occurred in the Alabama lab in December, the tests were sent to the lab at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., to expedite results. The lowest amount detected was 0.78 parts per million, described by horticulture experts as a “very lethal dose.” The highest amount detected was 51 parts per million, or 65 times the lowest dose. Experts believe a normal application by itself would have been enough to kill the trees, which are estimated to be more than 130 years old.
Auburn’s update page – here