eliminates opportunity for public comment on toxic Dow herbicide
GA -- While common herbicides produced and marketed by Dow
AgroSciences continue in use and cause significant financial harm
to successful composting operations, an action by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency at the request of Dow has all but closed the door
for public comments on this important issue.
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 WA 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.
one of the oldest and easiest types of recycling,” says Bill
Sheehan, executive director of the GrassRoots Recycling Network.
“Dow’s toxic products not only kill weeds, they are
killing financially successful compost programs that keep thousands
of tons of organic material out of landfills.”
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, however, in
an effort to preempt a stronger state ban in California, 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.
Incredibly, EPA agreed
with Dow’s request to shorten the public comment period because
the issue is controversial, according to an EPA spokesperson. On
September 20th, EPA issued a correction in the Federal Register
that ends the public comment period on September 27th. This followed
by five days the signing into law of the California bill (AB 2356)
that goes beyond Dow’s self-serving requests for limited EPA
or not Dow is getting a free ride from the EPA is unclear, but to
virtually exclude the opportunity for meaningful public engagement
on this issue is shocking,” continues GRRN’s Sheehan.
Only through GRRN’s pursuit of this issue was EPA’s
error first detected and an opportunity for public comments offered.
Concerned citizens can send comments to the EPA at GRRN’s
Web Action Center, http://action.grrn.org/action/.
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
Recycling Network is a North American network of waste reduction activists
and professionals promoting producer responsibility and Zero Waste
as critical elements of a sustainable society. For more information
on Dow’s persistent herbicide visit http://www.grrn.org/dow/background.html