Halt to oyster-insecticide spraying sought

The Washington Toxics Coalition yesterday filed an administrative appeal to block insecticide spraying of oyster beds in the tidelands of Southwest Washington.

The appeal was filed with the Pollution Control Hearings Board. It seeks revocation of a state Department of Ecology permit issued earlier this year to spray carbaryl on 800 acres of tidelands in Willapa Bay, according to Erika Schreder of the Washington Toxics Coalition.

The carbaryl spraying has been going on for decades to combat a sand shrimp that burrows into tidelands and can render them unsuitable for oyster cultivation. Oyster growers have defended the program, saying it is vital to their operations.

Last year, a federal court ruled that states were required under federal law to issue permits for aquatic pesticide spraying. In May, the state Department of Ecology issued the first permit to spray the Willapa Bay oyster beds.

The Washington Toxic Coalition argues that the permit allows concentrations of the insecticide that violate the federal Clean Water Act, and also fails to do enough to protect endangered species. The coalition hopes the hearings board will issue a stay to prevent summer spraying expected to occur in July or August.