Methyl bromide extension sought

by Emily Wilson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — An application that would give the U.S. milling industry extended use of methyl bromide was to be filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September, according to the North American Millers’ Association.

In a briefing for its members, NAMA said it would file a Critical Use Exemption (CUE) application with the EPA in the hope millers will be able to use the fumigant beyond the Jan. 1, 2005 ban. The NAMA application, which covers member milling companies, will be filed together with CUE applications from other industry groups.

Gaining an extension would not be an easy matter, NAMA said. If the EPA were to act favorably on the submission, it would forward the CUE to the United Nations Environmental Program for a second review. If the UNEP hurdle were cleared, an exemption could be granted for a specific period of time and for specific quantities.

"While the odds of that happening may be low, the importance of the fumigant to the industry makes it essential that NAMA attempt to achieve every possible relief," NAMA said.

While it is a highly effective and inexpensive fumigant, methyl bromide use is being phased out of production and use globally since the compound was identified as an ozone-depleting substance in the early 1990s. NAMA, in recent years, successfully fended off a proposal that would have banned its use in the United States in 2001. On Jan. 1, 2003, production will be cut by an additional 20%, bringing the total cut over the past eight years to 70% of the 1991 production level.

"Ultimately, it likely will take action by Congress to amend the law to keep the compound available in the United States," NAMA said.