Daily News Archive
From January 17, 2003

Hearing to Ban Wood Preservative Pentachlorophenol Set for January 21 in Federal District Court

U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon is set to hear testimony on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 on the immediate suspension of all uses of the wood preservative pentachlorophenol (penta), which is primarily used to treat more than half of the utility poles in the U.S., but banned around the world. The case, filed against EPA on December 10, 2002, cites adverse health effects, including cancer, endocrine disruption and damage to vital organs, and cites the availability of safer alternatives. Plaintiffs include Beyond Pesticides, Communications Workers of America (CWA), Center for Environmental Health, and a victim family from Florida. This is the first part of a larger case seeking cancellation of penta, chromated copper arsenate (CCA) and creosote.

EPA submitted a reply brief to the court on December 19, 2002, in which it opposed the plaintiffs motion, yet did not respond on the merits or explain why it has failed to act on the extremely high risks penta has posed over two decades. Instead, EPA avoided the issues raised by the plaintiffs' motion and its own findings of up to a 340% risk of cancer, by advancing an unsupportable attack on the Court's jurisdiction and asking the Court to blindly accept its decision to re-assess penta by means of a lengthy re-registration review, instead of cancellation or suspension. EPA has engaged in a 12 year formal review, and now has told the court that another 6 months to three years is needed.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, EPA is required to take interim measures to prevent "imminent hazards" to public health and the environment caused by pesticides. Given the extremely high toxicity, carcinogenicity, fetotoxicity and mutagenicity, which EPA has repeatedly found that penta poses, the plaintiffs believe that this is exactly the course of action mandated by Congress under the federal pesticide law.

Visit the Wood Preservatives program page for more information and supporting documents.