Early in April the EPA published an notice of proposed rulemaking proposing to establish a new pesticide tolerance standard for methyl bromide on cottonseed to be imported into the United States as cattle feed. A pre-requisite for establishing that tolerance would be the establishment of a treatment schedule in the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Plant Protection and Quarantine Treatment Manual. Yesterday the DA published a notice in the Federal Register (77 FR 31564-31566) announcing that they “have determined that it is necessary to immediately add to the Plant Protection and Quarantine Treatment Manual a treatment schedule for methyl bromide fumigation of cottonseed for the fungal plant pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. vasinfectum (FOV)” (77 FR 31564).
The adoption of the proposed amendment to the PPQ Treatment Manual effectively clears the way for EPA to proceed with their NPRM allowing this new use of methyl bromide. While I am certainly not an agricultural specialist and couldn’t even identify a cottonseed, it seems that this appears to be a justified use of this material.
What is not clear is the effect this new critical use of methyl bromide will have on the phase out of that material under the Montreal Protocol. I would suspect that this will extend the lifetime of the use of methyl bromide in the United States for some indeterminate time.
Once again, I would call upon DHS to add methyl bromide back to the list of DHS chemicals of interest (COI) requiring reporting under the CFATS program (6 CFR Part 27, Appendix A). That methyl bromide is a toxic chemical meeting the requirements of a toxic release COI has never been in dispute. DHS removed methyl bromide from the final list for Appendix A simply because they had assurances from the EPA that methyl bromide was being phased out of use and production making it a waste of time to include it in the CFATS program. DHS clearly misunderstood how long the phase out of methyl bromide was going to take.