Tuesday, May 18, 2010

EPA to limit pesticide use near salmon streams

After manufacturers rejected voluntary limits on pesticide spraying near streams where salmon are found, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will enforce new restrictions. EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said in an e-mail, "EPA will develop new rules for applying the chemicals diazinon, malathion and chlorpyrifos that will include no-spray zones along streams and restrictions on spraying depending on weather conditions," Jeff Barnard of The Associated Press reports. EPA will also require reporting of dead fish.

"Even at very low levels, the chemicals have been found by federal biologists to interfere with salmon's sense of smell, making it harder for them to find food, avoid predators and return to native waters to spawn," Barnard writes. Manufacturers Dow AgroSciences, Makhteshim Agan of North America, Cheminova and Gharda Chemicals Ltd. notified EPA on Friday that they would not voluntarily adopt the restrictions. The decision comes a year and a half after the NOAA Fisheries Service found pesticides were threatening 27 species of salmon and steelhead, protected by the Endangered Species Act.

In a letter to EPA, "a lawyer for Dow AgroSciences and Makhteshim Agan said the companies feel there is no scientific evidence the pesticides are killing, harming or jeopardizing the survival of salmon, or harming critical habitat, and that the NOAA Fisheries analysis was deficient," Barnard writes. Steve Machuda, an attorney for Earthjustice in Seattle, said "We are encouraged that they are finally getting serious about implementing these protections and hope that the agency takes the most immediate and aggressive action available to it to ensure that pesticides are removed from Northwest salmon waters." (Read more)

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