EPA sets compliance deadlines for 3 chemicals deemed lethal to salmon

U.S. EPA has given compliance deadlines to manufacturers of three pesticides linked to problems with salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

The companies -- Makhteshim Agan of North America Inc., Cheminova Inc. and Dow AgroSciences -- have until May 13 to signal their intention to comply with the new requirements, Richard Keigwin, EPA's director of pesticide re-evaluation, said in a letter to the manufacturers last week.

At issue are three organophosphates: diazinon, malathion and chlorpyrifos.

The National Marine Fisheries Service in 2008 released a biological opinion finding that the three pesticides can be lethal to salmon at certain concentrations and can decrease salmon growth at lower levels by impairing their ability to smell prey and by reducing the availability of small fish and insects.

The opinion came after a coalition of fishing and environmental groups sued EPA for violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with National Marine Fisheries Service on the effects of pesticides on salmon and steelhead.


In response, EPA said last year it would consider several restrictions for waters in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington that are home to 28 salmon and steelhead species. Those measures include adding pesticide buffer zones; limiting applications depending on wind speed, soil moisture and weather conditions; and requiring the reporting of fish kills.

EPA began by asking pesticide manufacturers to comply voluntarily, but Keigwin said the agency will pursue action under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act to require implementation if the companies do not agree to implement the new requirements.

Garry Hamlin, spokesman for Dow AgroSciences, said his company has received the letter and will respond at a later date.

Click here to read the letter.

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