US sued for pollution from retardant drops on wildfires

The Associated Press in the Mail Tribune
October 11, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

BILLINGS, Montana — An environmental group filed a lawsuit Tuesday against U.S. Forest Service officials that alleges they polluted waterways during their campaigns against wildfires by inadvertently dropping large volumes of chemical flame retardant into streams. Government data found aircraft operated or contracted by the Forest Service dropped more than 760,000 gallons of fire retardant directly onto streams and other waterways between 2012 and 2019. The main ingredients in fire retardant are inorganic fertilizers and salts that can be harmful to some fish, frogs, crustaceans and other aquatic species. The lawsuit alleges the continued use of retardant from aircraft violates the Clean Water Act. It requests a judge to declare the pollution illegal, and was filed by Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. …Forest Service officials in recent years have sought to avoid polluting streams during their fights against wildfires by imposing buffer zones around waterways where drops are restricted.

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