Thursday, June 4, 2009

Methyl Bromide and Chloropicrin

When DHS published the final rule on Appendix A to 6 CFR Part 27, they removed methyl bromide and chloropicrin from the list of COI. Both chemicals were included on the draft COI list released in April of 2007; methyl bromide as a Theft/Diversion Weapon of Mass Effect COI and chloropicrin as a Theft/Diversion Chemical Warfare/Precursor COI (chloropicrin is a Schedule 3 chemical under the Chemical Warfare Convention). In the preamble to the final rule DHS noted that (72 FR 65404):
“In addition, the Department no longer includes methyl bromide on the list of chemicals, because it is being phased out of domestic manufacture and use under Clean Air Act regulations implementing the United State’s obligations as a signatory to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Thus, given the limited and decreasing availability of methyl bromide, the Department does not believe that the potential consequences of an attack warrant inclusion of that chemical on the list of chemicals in Appendix A.”
This sounds good until I read an article on about the continued use of both methyl bromide and chloropicrin as a soil fumigant for the strawberry crops in California. The article quotes a County Agriculture Commissioner as saying that: “More than 70 percent of strawberry cropland is fumigated with a methyl bromide chloropicrin combination.” They further quote statistics from the California Department of Pesticide Regulations that in 2007 6.4 million pounds of methyl bromide was used in the State of California with more than 650,000 lbs used in Santa Cruz County alone. And the article notes that there is still ‘no viable alternative available’ and “year after year, California berry growers receive [EPA] exemptions to the [Montreal] protocol and continue using methyl bromide”. DHS needs to re-look at their rationale for not including these two chemicals on their list of DHS Chemicals of Interest.

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