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Appeals Court Keeps No-Spray Buffers for Salmon in Place

Hazardous pesticides must keep distance from salmon streams
May 5, 2004
San Francisco, CA —

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to set aside a lower court ruling prohibiting the spraying of certain pesticides near salmon streams while chemical companies appeal. The pesticide industry group CropLife and grower groups requested a stay that would remove safeguards from hazardous pesticides for salmon.

The stay must first be decided by the U.S. District Court in Seattle, which originally issued the January 2004 injunction that put in place no-spray zones of 100 yards for aerial applications and 20 yards for ground applications of more than 30 pesticides. The district court's injunction also required in-store warnings to inform consumers that seven urban-use pesticides may harm salmon.

"The pesticide industry overreached in its effort to block protections for salmon," said Patti Goldman of Earthjustice, who represented the plaintiffs. "This injunction was clearly warranted to get pesticides out of streams while EPA complies with the Endangered Species Act and develops permanent protections for salmon."

The Ninth Circuit will allow the groups to renew their request for a stay if the district court doesn't rule by May 25, 2004.

"The pesticide industry brought all its resources to bear to convince the courts to stop salmon protections, but clean water and salmon won over industry profits," said Erika Schreder, staff scientist with the Washington Toxics Coalition. "The court has looked at the facts and found that action is needed now to prevent pesticide harm to salmon."

U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour issued the injunction on January 22, 2004, as a result of a lawsuit filed by the Washington Toxics Coalition, Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, with representation by Earthjustice. The Environmental Protection Agency and pesticide companies appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit, but the injunction will stay in place throughout the appeals process unless the parties secure a stay from the court.

The injunction followed Judge Coughenour's 2002 decision that found EPA out of compliance with the Endangered Species Act for failing to protect salmon from harmful pesticides. The judge ordered EPA to consult with NOAA Fisheries to establish permanent restrictions needed to protect salmon from 54 pesticides, over a two-and-a-half year timeline.


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