Today the Environmental Protection Agency published a solicitation in the Federal Register (76 FR 34700-34703) for submission of requests for critical use exemptions for the use of methyl bromide as a pest control agent in 2014. As readers of this blog are probably painfully aware by now, the use of methyl bromide has been being phased out since 2005, but EPA (under the Montreal Protocol) has provided critical use exemptions to that phase out for uses where no alternative pest control agent exists or is approved for use.
This notice begins the exemption process for methyl bromide uses in 2014. User and producer submissions made in response to this notice will be used by EPA to determine what uses will be allowed in 2014 and how much methyl bromide will be produced that year to meet those uses.
Personal Rant Warning: The reason that I keep harping on this relatively obscure action is that in 2007 when DHS was formulating the list of chemicals that would be used to determine if a facility needed to submit a Top Screen to start the CFATS process, they accepted the word of EPA that methyl bromide was being phased out and removed it from their proposed list of chemicals that became Appendix A to 6 CFR part 27.
So today, facilities that produce, store or use methyl bromide, a toxic inhalation hazard chemical, may not be covered by the security requirements of CFATS unless they have some other listed chemical in their inventory. Clearly, the EPA expects that methyl bromide use will continue through at least 2014 (and probably much longer; methyl bromide is just too effective a fumigant to be able to be easily replaced in all applications).
So, once again, I urge DHS in their current review of the chemicals listed in Appendix A to consider putting methyl bromide back on the list of DHS chemicals of interest with a screening threshold quantity based upon the same reasoning used for similar toxic inhalation hazard chemicals.