Terry L. Witt, Executive Director
Oregonians for Food & Shelter,
We are now at the next juncture in a series of legal steps set in motion by the Washington Toxics Coalition lawsuit against EPA for failing to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) over the potential for pesticides to affect endangered salmon.
NMFS has issued a DRAFT Biological Opinion (BiOp) on the possible effects of carbaryl, carbofuran and methomyl on endangered salmon. They concluded that use of these compounds is likely to jeopardize endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest. As part of the BiOp, NMFS must propose reasonable and prudent alternatives (RPAs) and develop a draft incidental take statement that includes reasonable and prudent measures (RPMs).
It is very important to have grower and applicator concerns on the record before the BiOp is finalized. Grower groups need to explain why the proposed RPMs and RPAs are not appropriate. NMFS has many more products to assess. It appears that NMFS is using the same template for the carbamates they used for the organophosphates. Speculation is that they may continue to use this template for the rest of the products on the list. That would mean many unnecessary restrictions on a variety of products including herbicides. Commenting now will help shape future assessments.
EPA is seeking input on the RPAs and RPMs. Comments must be posted to the EPA website by April 20th if possible and no later than April 25th.
To post your comments on the government website, click here: Carbamate Comments
Enter your name, then cut and paste from the letter below into the Public Comment box on the website. The attached document provides more detail about the proposed restrictions, including the size of buffers.
Comments on the Draft Biological Opinion issued under the Endangered Species Act, by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Related to Carbaryl, Carbofuran, and Methomyl, and Pacific Salmon and Steelhead Species, docket number: EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0654
The Biological Opinion (BiOp) prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) grossly overestimates the risk of the carbamates to endangered salmon. The BiOp for the carbamates mirrors much of the BiOp for organophosphates even though these two groups of chemicals are significantly different. NMFS set aside EPA’s risk assessment and reached erroneous conclusions using inappropriate data and procedures.
Water sampling conduction by the Washington State Department of Agriculture shows that current practices are working and water is being protected. It is unreasonable to take tools away from growers without good science to back it up.
Contrary to all responsible science and regulatory process, NMFS used an unvalidated, unpublished, non-peer-reviewed model to predict effects on salmon populations.
The BiOp assumes all carbamates would be applied at the maximum rate to the same field on the same day. That is not a realistic assumption and grossly overestimates the potential for exposure.
Because NMFS overestimated the risks of these products, the RPAs and RPMs are excessive, particularly with respect to buffer sizes. The blanket application of buffers is unnecessary and will result in a significant impact to agricultural production.
RPA Element 1
The buffers were calculated using assumptions that are not based on how the products are actually used. Buffers should be based on actual use patterns.
RPA Element 2
Restrictions on wind speed should be changed to apply only when wind is blowing toward the water.
RPA Element 3
Most recommendations for vegetation strips are 10 feet. Doubling the size means tearing out crops. Is there science showing that 10 foot wide strips are not effective?
RPA Element 4
RPA Element 5
Fish die for a wide variety of reasons having nothing to do with pesticide use. Prespawn mortality in salmon in Washington State has been linked to copper from brake linings in road runoff. The only pesticide related fish kills I know of have been extreme accidents not related to a legal application. To require growers to report fish kills is insulting at best and shows a disconnect with reality.
Draft BiOp Requirements
RPM Item 1
See comments under RPA 5. In addition, it is not realistic to expect people to call two different phone numbers in a time zone three hours away. Any practical investigation to determine cause of death would have to be conducted by a state agency that is close enough to collect the specimen.
RPM Item 2
See comments under RPA 5.
RPM Item 3
See comment under RPA 2. This should be handled solely under the RPA requirement.
RPM Item 4
See comment under RPA 4. This should be handled solely under the RPA requirement.