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New CDPR Proposal Would Further Tighten Fumigation Rules

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) has proposed new regulations on the use of chloropicrin (Pic) to reduce potential worker and bystander exposure that could impact almond growers who fumigate soil when replanting with a Pic-containing product, such as Telone C35.

The new regulations come on the heels of already revised federal EPA application requirements for Pic and other soil fumigants, which appear on labels as of this year. These revised requirements include buffer zone restrictions, depending on tarp usage, notification requirements and the requirement that trained applicators be present.

CDPR has said that additional mitigation measures are warranted for chloropicrin, which is a powerful eye irritant. CDPR’s proposal contains language that caps the number of acres that can be treated in a day at 40 acres, as well as specific language that would increase the size of buffer zones and tighten rules when they overlap, likely making the application process longer and more expensive.

Under current EPA rules, buffer zones listed on the labels can be reduced if certain conditions are met during fumigation, such as using certain tarps, applying water over fumigated fields, or if the field matches a certain soil type. Under the new proposed CDPR rules, the only approved measure to reduce the size of mandated buffer zones would be the use of tarps designated as “totally impermeable films” (TIF).

The agency will hold a series of public meetings throughout the state on its proposed changes. Technical meetings for growers and applicators will be held in Fresno June 18 and Redding June 25. A community meeting is also scheduled in Fresno for the general public. Growers are encouraged to attend to better understand the proposal and to provide comment on the importance of soil fumigation to ensure the long-term health of the orchard.

Written comments may also be submitted until July 31 by fax to (916) 445-4280, or by email.

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