Judge halts moth spraying in Santa Cruz Co.

April 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Governor defended the aerial spraying to kill the apple moth, but despite that assurance, a judge in Santa Cruz County calls off aerial spraying there. He ruled that there is no real emergency to justify this kind of wide spread spraying. The State plans to appeal the judge's ruling, which says spraying over Santa Cruz County has to stop, until an environmental review is done.

Before Thursday, areal spaying of pheromone was scheduled to take place in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties on June 1st, and in San Francisco on August 1st. Now the California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) says to wait, take a look at this situation, and conduct more tests making sure it's safe for humans. He wants people to understand it is safe and he confidently thinks it is safe.

Governor Schwarzenegger says the earliest date for any spraying is August 18th and Thursday's court ruling take Santa Cruz County off the table altogether.

Opponents of aerial spraying to eradicate the light brown apple moth emerged from a Santa Cruz County courtroom victorious. The spraying here is stopped indefinitely.

"They really do have to go through the proper steps to do an environmental review to take a look at alternatives to take a look at weather this pest is really a threat that they say it is," said Neal Coonerty, a Santa Cruz County Supervisor.

Even before the ruling was known in Sacramento, the Governor was meeting with State Senator Carole Migden and others. He announced a delay in the spraying for all Bay Area Counties and ordered more safety testing.

"We want to talk to the locals and make them feel at ease about the spraying," said Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Those tests may do little to reassure people who say the pheromone spraying in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties made them sick.

The spray called Checkmate IBAM-F is designed to confuse the moths and keep them from mating.

There were some 600 complaints of people getting sick after spraying last fall.

"We were very clear that there were adverse health affects reported, affects on children, the elderly. Compromising the immunity of people is absolutely unacceptable," said Nora Caruso, a spraying opponent.

California's Food and Agriculture Secretary says the state will aggressively appeal Thursday's ruling. The state says the moth threatens some 250 crops and farmers say the spray is needed sooner rather than later.

"As the weather warms up like it is now, there's going to be a new flush of moths flying around and the pheromone is something that will stop them from mating," said Steve Bontadelli, from the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau.

Spraying opponents hope the Santa Cruz ruling sets a precedent. They have a similar lawsuit in Monterey County that is scheduled for May 8th. San Francisco officials and officials from several other Bay Area cities opposed to the spraying, said at this point they are not filing lawsuits, but at this time they are watching and waiting as these developments play out.


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