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EPA Virtually Eliminates Opportunity For Public Comment on Toxic Dow Herbicide
(from September 25, 2002)

From GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN) - The composting industry is threatened by the increasingly widespread use of a particularly persistent herbicide made by Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company. The taxpayers of Spokane Washington are having to pay $950,000 to buy the city out of a contract with a composting company whose product was contaminated with clopyralid, the active ingredient in Dow herbicides like Confront. Compost contaminated with clopyralid residues have been found in several other states and cities. Compost made from grass clippings cut from clopyralid-treated lawns has severely stunted certain food plants to which the compost is applied; it also has the potential to leach into groundwater.

GRRN has led the grassroots effort demanding that Dow follow the Precautionary Principle - take responsibility for the impacts of their products and remove them from use until they can be proven safe.

Recently, Dow AgroSciences asked U.S. EPA to absolve Dow of responsibility by simply adding a warning to product labels cautioning commercial users not to apply the herbicide on turf that could be composted. That action is not open to public comment, according to EPA. Dow also asked EPA to delete application of the product on "residential turf" as an approved use. On August 28th, EPA published public notice of the proposed deletion action in the Federal Register with a 6-month comment period - although they failed to include two of the three technical source forms of clopyralid.

Dow has requested to shorten the public comment period because the issue is controversial, according to an EPA spokesperson and incredibly the EPA has agreed. On September 20th, EPA issued a correction in the Federal Register that ends the public comment period on September 27th.

Dow's requested action neither addresses the most significant uses of clopyralid products nor provides adequate warning of all the dangers presented by the product. The vast majority of product is applied by commercial and agricultural applicators, and clippings from commercial turf (the majority of turf in some states) frequently wind up in municipal compost programs.

Concerned citizens can send comments to the EPA at GRRN's Web Action Center, http://action.grrn.org/action/.

For more information, contact: Bill Sheehan, Network Coordinator, GrassRoots Recycling Network
Phone: 706-613-7121, Email: zerowaste@grrn.org