WASHINGTON (CN) - The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed 2013 critical-use exemptions for the ozone-depleting, broad-spectrum crop fumigant methyl bromide.
Use and production of the odorless toxic gas has been phased out in developed countries since 2005, with a phase-out date of 2015 for developing countries. Critical-use exemptions are still established every year, however, for "uses that do not have technically and economically feasible alternatives that are acceptable from the standpoint of environment and health and for which the lack of methyl bromide would result in significant market disruption," according to the EPA's rule.
The government put stratospheric ozone protection program regulations in place after the 1987 ratification of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the subsequent 1990 Clean Air Act amendments in the United States.
"Methyl bromide was added to the Protocol as an ozone-depleting substance in 1992 through the Copenhagen Amendment to the Protocol," the proposed action noted.
A 2004 EPA rule established a framework for critical-use exemptions of methyl bromide, as well as the amounts of the pesticide that can be produced, imported or supplied from inventory to meet those uses.
Applicants must provide data on the technical and economic feasibility of using alternatives, and submit data on their use of the chemical, ongoing research programs into alternatives, and their efforts to minimize use and emissions in their sector.
The yearly determined critical-use allowances are not "bankable" from year to year. The EPA requests comments regarding the changes in its proposed nomination and registration process for the 2013 exemptions because thresholds for "significant market disruption" and "technical and economic feasibility" can change, the rule says.
Regulators removed some users from nomination because they did not submit applications; others have already transitioned to the use of other fumigants; and the agency determined after a technical review that a third group did not meet the critical-use criteria. Others users, primarily small growers, need an additional year to transition to the alternatives, the agency said.
The agency is accepting comments and technical information on the proposal until Jan. 28, 2013.
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