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Environmental, Fishing Groups Seek Court Action to Stop Pesticide Pollution

Pesticide runoff is harmful to salmon
November 27, 2002
Seattle, WA — 
Environmental and fishing groups have filed for an injunction in Seattle Federal District Court to stop the pesticide uses most likely to harm salmon. The move follows a July court ruling that forces the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that it does not allow pesticide uses that harm endangered salmon. The groups are seeking the injunction to put interim protections in place until EPA brings its pesticide regulations into compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

"We know these pesticides are in our rivers and streams and they can harm salmon." said Aimee Code of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides. "We need the court to put salmon protections in place today."

The groups filing for the injunction include the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, the Washington Toxics Coalition, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, and the Institute for Fisheries Resources. They are represented by Earthjustice.

The groups are seeking the following interim protections:

* a 100 yard no-spray zone to protect salmon from aerial applications of pesticides near salmon streams;

* a 20 yard no-spray zone to protect salmon from ground applications of pesticides near salmon sreams; and

* a ban on homeowner (non-licensed) use in urban areas of certain pesticides likely to harm salmon.

"There is no time to lose in taking action to get pesticides out of our waterways where they are harming salmon," said Erika Schreder of the Washington Toxics Coalition. "We're asking for common-sense protections to reduce pesticide contamination of our waters while EPA complies with the law."

In July, Judge John Coughenour ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to initiate consultations with the National Marine Fisheries Service on protection of salmon from 54 pesticides. These consultations mark the first step toward ensuring pesticide use will not wipe out threatened and endangered salmon.

Water monitoring by the U.S. Geological Survey has found extensive evidence of pesticides in salmon waters, including 14 pesticides at levels likely to cause harm. The original lawsuit, decided in July, also cited EPA's own documents finding that current uses for numerous pesticides are likely to threaten fish or their habitat. In total, EPA's findings and the U.S. Geological Survey detections identified 54 pesticides that pose documented threats to salmon.

The no-spray buffers sought in today's injunction filing would apply to the 54 pesticides in the July court order, and the urban restrictions would apply to products containing 13 selected pesticides that pose particular hazards in urban areas. The groups are asking the court to put the measures in place while EPA complies with last summer's order.

"Our salmon populations are in decline, and we need swift action to address the causes of that decline," said Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "This is a step towards restoring salmon that could bring back tens of thousands of fishing jobs and a billion dollar industry to our region."

"The government has dragged its feet when it comes to protecting salmon from pesticides," said Patti Goldman of Earthjustice. "It's time to limit pesticide contamination of salmon streams until pesticide use is brought into compliance with the Endangered Species Act."


Contact:
Aimee Code, NCAP, 541-344-5044 x27
Erika Schreder, Washington Toxics Coalition, 206-632-1545 x19
Patti Goldman, Earthjustice, 206-343-7340 x32