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From July 9, 2002

Washington State Suspends Use of Carbaryl on Oyster Beds

The Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board temporarily halted the state Department of Ecology's pesticide permit issued to Willipa Bay and Grays Harbor oyster growers. The permit allows over 800 acres of tide flats to be sprayed with carbaryl, a toxic insecticide used to control burrowing shrimp on oyster beds. The temporary suspension is a result of the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Ad-hoc Coalition for Willapa Bay June Board appeal to a permit that would allow the spray of more than three tons of the insecticide.
The Depart of Ecology issued the permit allowing the spray for four years despite hundreds of comments from the public and from other agencies expressing concerns about the spray. Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor are the only places in the country where such a spray is allowed. A final decision on whether the permit is revoked will be made once the Board hears the coalition's full appeal.

"With this permit, Ecology is trying to legalize poisoning of an entire estuary with a neurotoxic insecticide," said Erika Schreder, staff scientist with the Washington Toxics Coalition. "We [were] forced to take legal action because Ecology is shirking its duty to uphold the Clean Water Act."

The final permit issued by the Department of Ecology allows the growers to pollute the bay with carbaryl that can be at toxic levels for up to 30 days following the spray. The permit has no requirements to meet standards to protect sediment or to protect human health. Thus, the permit clearly goes against the requirements of the Clean Water Act. The permit also fails to protect endangered species, including the coastal cutthroat which have been proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

"Since our state government is not protecting the health of our water bodies, we're asking the Pollution Control Hearings Board to protect us," said Larry Warnberg, an organic oyster grower and member of the Ad-hoc Coalition for Willapa Bay. "Ecology needs to protect our water-my livelihood and that of many crabbers and fishers depends on it."

"There is very clear evidence that spraying three tons of carbaryl in sensitive estuaries devastates the ecosystem, harming fish, birds, and other creatures," added Schreder. "Willapa Bay is renowned for its fish and crab populations and the Clean Water Act says they have to be protected. That's the protection we're seeking in court."

For more information contact Erika Schreder, Washington Toxics Coalition, at 206-632-1545 ext.19 or www.watoxics.org and Larry Warnberg, Ad-hoc Coalition for Willapa Bay, at 360-665-2926.


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