Environmental groups try to block pesticide use for oysters

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Environmental and public health groups are again trying to block the spraying of a controversial pesticide on oyster and clam beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

The state Ecology Department has blocked the use of the neurotoxic pesticide imidacloprid on the beds, but shellfish growers have appealed that decision to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board. Meanwhile, three bills in the Legislature would allow the spraying.

State and federal officials say that mounting evidence shows the pesticide poses too great a risk to the environment because it kills invertebrates, including Dungeness crab. The oyster growers say they need it to kill native burrowing shrimp that destroy the shellfish beds.

The Center for Food Safety, Western Environmental Law Center, Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat and Center for Biological Diversity this week filed papers seeking to intervene in the appeal before the Pollution Control Hearings Board.