Washington Denies Neurotoxic Pesticides Permit

A request from shellfish growers for a permit to use the pesticide imidacloprid on oyster and clam beds to control native burrowing shrimp has been denied by the Washington Department of Ecology on grounds that the environmental harm would be too great.

The denial to a request from Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association was issued on April 9.

“We’ve been working with this community of growers for years to move away from chemical pesticides and find a safer alternative to control burrowing shrimp,” said Ecology Director Maia Belton. “The science around imidacloprid is rapidly evolving, and we can’t ignore it. New findings make it clear that this pesticide is simply too risky and harmful to be used in Washington’s waters and estuaries.”

The body of science is expanding due to national and international concerns over use of neonicotinoid pesticides and their environmental impacts. New research points to greater impacts in land and water ecosystems than previously known, DOE officials said.

In its environmental assessment, Washington’s Ecology agencies studied the best available science from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority, plus hundreds of other new reports.

The Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity and Western Environmental Law Center had all urged the Ecology Department not to grant the permit based on both data gaps and disturbing evidence of harm from neonicotinoids, including aquatic species like Dungeness crabs.

In its own review, the Ecology Department found significant, adverse and unavoidable impacts to both sediment quality and invertebrates living in the sediments and water column, Ecology officials said. The agency was accepting public comment through May 14. Once final, the decision could be appealed to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearing Board within 30 days, they said. More information on the review and decision is online at www.ecology.wa.gov/burrowingshrimp.