In today’s Federal Register EPA published a notice that they had received requests from registrants to amend their approved registrations for the use of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant, removing some approved uses. EPA is expected to approve those requested amendments. This is good news in the EPA’s effort to phase out the use of methyl bromide because of its effect on the ozone layer. It indicates that substitute products have been identified.
Long-time readers will be surprised at the positive tone of the above comment; I’m trying. Once again, though I am going to complain about the failure of DHS to list methyl bromide, a dangerous toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) chemical as a release toxic chemical of interest in Appendix A to 6 CFR part 27. For newer readers I need to explain that DHS removed this chemical from their initial proposed Appendix A list because EPA was actively phasing out the allowed uses of the chemical as a soil fumigant.
The bad news in this EPA notice is the listing of the continued approved uses of methyl bromide and the ‘expected’ dates for the expiration of those approvals. Multiple uses of methyl bromide are not expected to expire before December 31, 2014. Considering the difficulties that the agriculture community is having finding acceptable effective substitutes it would not be beyond the bounds of possibility for one or more of these registrations to be extended. The Farm Lobby is much more effective at protecting their interests from the EPA than is the energy industry.
In any case, DHS blew it in November 2007 when they removed methyl bromide from the list of COI that would trigger the submission of a Top Screen and the subsequent evaluation of the risk facilities possessing this toxic chemical posed to the communities surrounding those facilities because of the potential for a terrorist attack on those facilities. Because of the larger environmental hazard associated with this chemical, these facilities are at increased risk of potential attack by radical eco-terrorists. DHS needs to add this chemical back to the list until its manufacture and storage has actually stopped.