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Interim court ordered pesticide buffers

Current status: Comment Period Closed, Stipulated Injunction and Comments Under Review

Update - July 16, 2014
EPA requested comments to be submitted by July 7, 2014, on a proposed stipulated injunction that, among other things, would reinstitute streamside no-spray buffer zones for five insecticides to protect endangered or threatened Pacific salmon and steelhead in California, Oregon, and Washington. The insecticides are: carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion, and methomyl. These buffers would remain in place until EPA implements any necessary protections for Pacific salmon and steelhead based on reinitiated consultations with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

For a link to the Stipulated Settlement Agreement go to:


The stipulated injunction would settle litigation brought against EPA by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP). Like the original buffer zones, the limitations in this proposed stipulated injunction would be part of a court order, but would not be enforceable as labeling requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

The no-spray buffers extend 300 feet from salmon supporting waters for aerial applications of the 5 pesticides and 60 feet for ground applications. These same buffers are only currently in place for 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D or telone), bromoxynil, diflubenzuron, fenbutatin oxide, prometryn, propargite, and racemic metolachlor. The buffers for these 7 pesticides will remain in place until the completion of EPA's current Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultations with NMFS.

This ODA website will be updated when/if the buffers are reinstated (from the original injunction issued in 2004 in WTC, et al. v. EPA.) for carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion, and methomyl.

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Pesticides with interim buffers still in place

1,3-D (Telone) 

Bromoxynil  (Bronate)

Diflubenzuron (Dimilin)

Fenbutatin-oxide (Vendex/Promite)

Lindane (No longer registered in Oregon)

Prometryn (Caparol/Vegetable Pro)

Propargite (Comite/Omite)

Racemic metholachlor ** (Me-Too-Lachlor, Parallel, Stalwart)

 Trade names provided in parenthesis are examples, numerous products may contain these active ingredients.

 **        Does not include s-metholachlor (Dual Magnum).  Racemic metholachlor may appear on the pesticide label as “Metolachlor: 2-chloro- N-(2-ethyl-6- methylphenyl)-N-(2-methoxy- 1-methylethyl) acetamide”, or maybe listed in PICOL as in metolachlor (acetamide). 

If you plan to use any of these eight pesticides before June 30, 2013, please click on the link associated with the county in which you plan to use the pesticide. You can then determine if your planned use is adjacent to identified salmon supporting waters. If it is, you will need to follow the interim buffers.

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County interim buffer maps

All maps are pdf documents.

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January 30, 2001
The Washington Toxics Coalition and a number of other public interest groups filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection  Agency (WTC v. EPA) alleging EPA had failed to assess the potential of certain pesticides to harm federally listed endangered and threatened species, and to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on whether those pesticides posed jeopardy to 26 federally listed endangered and threatened Pacific salmon and steelhead.
Under the Endangered Species Act, EPA must ensure that its registration of pesticides is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of  species listed as endangered and threatened, or to adversely modify habitat critical to those species' survival. In addition, the Agency must consult, as appropriate, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or NMFS if a pesticide's use may affect listed species or designated critical habitat for a listed species.

July 2, 2002
The court ordered EPA to review pesticides containing any of 55 active ingredients, for their potential effects on these listed species and to consult with NMFS as appropriate.

January 22, 2004
The court issued an Order granting injunctive relief. The Order established interim buffer zones adjacent to identified salmon supporting waters (not all water bodies). The buffers were 60 ft for ground applications and 300 ft for aerial applications.
Court order, pdf (774 K)
EPA was responsible for making “effects determinations” for each of the individual pesticides in each of the various geographical regions in relationship to specific fish species. An effects determination is EPA’s conclusion regarding the potential effects a pesticide may have to a listed species, after a thorough ecological risk assessment is conducted. An effects determination may conclude that the pesticide’s use will have "no effect" on a listed species, "may affect but is not likely to adversely affect" a listed species, or is "likely to adversely affect" a listed species.
Buffers were to remain in effect for each of the individual pesticides until EPA: (1) Made a "no effect determination", or (2) determined that the use "may affect but is not likely to adversely affect" a listed species, or is "likely to adversely affect" a listed species, and then completed the required consultation process with NMFS. The consultation process is considered complete, when NMFS issues a final Biological Opinion. 

September 19, 2013 - June 5, 2014
The interim court ordered buffers from the Washington Toxics Coalition vs. the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (WTC v. EPA) lawsuit are currently still in effect for only the eight pesticides listed below; 55 active ingredients were involved in the original lawsuit. The interim buffers are 60 ft for ground applications and 300 ft for aerial applications. All determinations for pesticides identified in WTC vs EPA have been issued by EPA. Consultations with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have been completed for all of the pesticides in which they were required, except for the eight pesticides listed below. When the final Biological Opinions for the eight remaining pesticides are issued by NMFS the consultation process will be considered complete, and the interim buffers lifted. The final Biological Opinions were supposed to have been issued in June 2013.  However, at this time only a draftBiological Opinion has been issued for DiflubenzuronFenbutatin-oxide, and Propargite.
In the first two Biological Opinions issued by NMFS, specific buffer widths were listed as Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives. These have not been implemented at this time. For all pesticides (except the eight indicated below), users should follow the buffer indicated on the pesticide label on the container in their possession. For the eight remaining pesticides, the court-ordered buffers must be followed (if used in identified areas on the maps). 
For information not covered by this page or if you have additional questions, please contact Rose Kachadoorian, Pesticide registration specialist at 503.986.4651.

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