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[GreenYes] GRRN RELEASE: U.S. EPA virtually eliminates opportunity for public comment on toxic Dow herbicide
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2002
  Contact: Bill Sheehan (Ga.)  706-613-7121
  David Wood (Wisk.)  608-270-0940

EPA VIRTUALLY ELIMINATES OPPORTUNITY FOR 
PUBLIC COMMENT ON TOXIC DOW HERBICIDE

ATHENS, Ga. - While common herbicides produced 
and marketed by Dow AgroSciences continue in use 
and cause significant financial harm to 
successful composting operations, an action by 
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at the 
request of Dow has all but closed the door for 
public comments on this important issue.

The composting industry is threatened by the 
increasingly widespread use of a particularly 
persistent herbicide made by Dow AgroSciences, a 
subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company.  The 
taxpayers of Spokane WA are having to pay 
$950,000 to buy the city out of a contract with 
a composting company whose product was 
contaminated with clopyralid, the active 
ingredient in Dow herbicides like Confront. 
Compost contaminated with clopyralid residues 
have been found in several other states and 
cities. Compost made from grass clippings cut 
from clopyralid-treated lawns has severely 
stunted certain food plants to which the compost 
is applied.

"Composting is one of the oldest and easiest 
types of recycling," says Bill Sheehan, 
executive director of the GrassRoots Recycling 
Network. "Dow's toxic products not only kill 
weeds, they are killing financially successful 
compost programs that keep thousands of tons of 
organic material out of landfills."
 
GRRN has led the grassroots effort demanding that
Dow follow the Precautionary Principle -- take
responsibility for the impacts of their 
products and remove them from use until they can 
be proven safe.

Recently, however, in an effort to preempt a 
stronger state ban in California, Dow 
AgroSciences asked U.S. EPA to absolve Dow of 
responsibility by simply adding a warning to 
product labels cautioning commercial users not 
to apply the herbicide on turf that could be 
composted.  That action is not open to public 
comment, according to EPA.  Dow also asked EPA 
to delete application of the product on 
"residential turf" as an approved use.  On 
August 28th, EPA published public notice of the 
proposed deletion action in the Federal Register 
with a 6-month comment period - although they 
failed to include two of the three technical 
source forms of clopyralid.

Incredibly, EPA agreed with Dow's request to 
shorten the public comment period because the 
issue is controversial, according to an EPA 
spokesperson.  On September 20th, EPA issued a 
correction in the Federal Register that ends the 
public comment period on September 27th.  This 
followed by five days the signing into law of 
the California bill (AB 2356) that goes beyond 
Dow's self-serving requests for limited EPA 
action.  

"Whether or not Dow is getting a free ride 
from the EPA is unclear, but to virtually 
exclude the opportunity for meaningful public 
engagement on this issue is shocking," continues 
GRRN's Sheehan. Only through GRRN's pursuit of 
this issue was EPA's error first detected and an 
opportunity for public comments offered. 
Concerned citizens can send comments to the EPA 
at Grin's Web Action Center, 
http://action.grrn.org/action/

Dow's requested action neither addresses the 
most significant uses of clopyralid products nor 
provides adequate warning of all the dangers 
presented by the product.  The vast majority of 
product is applied by commercial and 
agricultural applicators, and clippings from 
commercial turf (the majority of turf in some 
states) frequently wind up in municipal compost 
programs.

****

The GrassRoots Recycling Network is a North 
American network of waste reduction activists 
and professionals promoting producer 
responsibility and Zero Waste as critical 
elements of a sustainable society.  For more 
information on Dow's persistent herbicide visit 
www.grrn.org/dow/background.html 



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