East Bay Mayors File Suit to Block LBAM Spraying

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday November 26, 2008 - 10:39:00 AM

Two East Bay mayors are among the plaintiffs who filed suit in San Francisco Tuesday, taking the battle over Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) spraying into federal court. 

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Albany counterpart Robert Lieber joined with Santa Cruz City Councilmember Tony Madrigal and lead plaintiff North Coast Rivers Alliance in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of a controversial eradication program. 

Attorney Stephan Volker, representing the plaintiffs, contends that the EPA violated two federal statues when it approved exemptions from registering the ingredients of two moth sprays released in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) proposed the plan, which was conducted a year ago.  

One of the sprays used contained an attractant designed to disrupt the insect’s mating cycle, while the second contains organophosphates. 

The Albany City Council voted unanimously in January for a resolution urging abandonment of the spraying program, while a court order blocked resumption of the program in Santa Cruz County preparation and certification of an environment impact report. 

A prepared statement form Volker’s office said that “at least 643 citizens were injured and filed reports with CDFA, many documented by physicians,” following last fall’s spraying program in the two counties to the south. 

While the agencies had subsequently dropped plans for more spraying in urban areas, Volker’s statement contends that “USDA and CDFA are threatening to spray these unsafe pesticides again in the San Francisco Bay Area, even though EPA’s own regulations classify these pesticides as unsafe for spraying over residential and agricultural areas.” 

Organophosphates—the same chemicals used in many nerve gases developed for military use—were fingered as the cause of Gulf War Syndrome, an ailment which has afflicted many veterans of the Iraq Wars in a report released last week. The report, prepared by a committee of scientists appointed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to ferret out the ailment’s causes, blames organophosphates both in the form of nerve gas and pesticides, as well as a compound used as a precautionary antidote to nerve gas. 

That document is available at http://sph.bu.edu.