Oregon Pesticide Rule Still Open for Comments

The proposal would add protections to EPA's Application Exclusion Zone, which surrounds and moves with pesticide-spray equipment during applications. It must be free of all people other than appropriately trained and equipped pesticide handlers.

Now that Oregon OSHA, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, has again extended the public comment period on proposed additional safeguards for workers against pesticide drift, comments are due by March 15. The agency said last month that this allows more time to comment on the proposed rules while considering a revised statement of need and financial impact.

That amended statement looks at training and compliance costs, reckoning many of them to be minimal.

The agency extended the comment period on the Worker Protection Standard proposed rules twice previously, including from Dec. 15, 2017, until Jan. 31, 2018, and also decided to appoint a Fiscal Advisory Committee in response to the request from the Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers that was received Nov. 3, 2017. In its letter, the growers' organization objected to the Fiscal Impact Statement filed in the rulemaking and requested that a Fiscal Advisory Committee be appointed. The letter said the growers -- 440 tree fruit farm families in Hood River and Wasco counties -- are home to 202 of Oregon's 309 registered agricultural labor camps, housing 5,835 workers, nearly two-thirds of the state's total 9,283. The organization asked 30 members what costs would be associated with a 100-foot application exclusion zone, and they estimated average lost annual production costs of $1.7 million per 100 acres, from tree fruit removal within the zones.

The committee included both grower and worker representatives, and it finished its work in February 2018 with an Amended Statement of Need and Fiscal Impact. The proposal would add protections to EPA's Application Exclusion Zone, which surrounds and moves with pesticide-spray equipment during applications. It must be free of all people other than appropriately trained and equipped pesticide handlers.

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