Wednesday, June 13, 2012

EPA Publishes Final Rule on Methyl Bromide for Cottonseed Fumigation

Today the EPA published a final rule in the Federal Register (77 FR 35295-34298) establishing the pesticide tolerances for the use of methyl bromide as a fumigant for cottonseed to be used as a feed stock for cattle. The EPA action on this rule has been prompt as the NPRM was published on April 6th and the Department of Agriculture published the necessary addendum to the PPQ Treatment Manual on May 29th.

Critical Use List

There appears to be just one more hurdle to be cleared before methyl bromide may actually be used in any quantity for the fumigation of cottonseed, it must be added to the list of critical uses for exemption of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and an amount established for its annual use. Since the final rule for those uses in 2012 has already been published, I would expect that the EPA would issue a letter allowing the use of methyl bromide for this year and add it to the consideration allocation for use next year that is already underway.

Similarly the actual listing of the use of methyl bromide as a ‘critical use’ has been made for each year through 2014, the EPA will have to go through some sort of hoop jumping to justify its use before 2015. The 2015 listing process is currently underway.

Interestingly, this issue of the listing of critical uses of methyl bromide under the Montreal Protocol has never been mentioned in this rulemaking action.

Effective Date

This rule is effective today. Objections to this rule and requests for hearings must be submitted by August 13th.

Methyl Bromide and CFATS

Once again it is clear that DHS overestimated the ability of EPA to actually phase out the use of methyl bromide; the justification that DHS used to remove methyl bromide from the proposed list of DHS chemicals of interest (COI) that form the basis for the initial screening of chemical facilities to determine if they are at high-risk of terrorist attack.

Once again (and I know that I am continuing to beat this drum at every opportunity) I urge DHS to add methyl bromide back to the Appendix A list of COI for the CFATS program. This toxic inhalation chemical will almost certainly be around for much longer than 2015.

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