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EPA Methyl Bromide Inventory Data Shows Downward Trend

Release Date: 09/07/2006
Contact Information: John Millett, (202) 564-4355 / millett.john@epa.gov

(9/7/06) Today EPA released data showing a steady decline in the aggregate methyl bromide inventory held by companies in the United States since 2003, when the Agency began collecting such information.

Methyl bromide is a widely used soil fumigant that is also a powerful ozone-depleting substance. Under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the Clean Air Act, the United States phased out new production and import of methyl bromide, except for allowable exemptions for users who have no technically and economically feasible alternatives. Methyl bromide needs for these critical uses are met through allowable production under the Montreal Protocol's exemption process as well as the use of existing inventory held by companies in the United States.

The data includes, in aggregate form, the inventory held by approximately 35 companies in the United States from 2003 to 2005. The methyl bromide inventory data shows a continued decrease – approximately 16,422 metric tons in 2003, 12,994 metric tons in 2004, and 9,974 metric tons in 2005 - and demonstrates that the United States is managing its domestic inventory appropriately.

The phaseout of new production and import and the orderly reduction in the existing inventory that facilitates transition to alternatives are proceeding in a manner consistent with previous successful phaseouts of ozone-depleting substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons. The United States continues to protect the ozone layer and meet its obligations under the Montreal Protocol while meeting the needs of American farmers.

Since 1994, the U.S. Government has invested over $150 million in research and innovative technologies to promote alternatives to methyl bromide. In addition, U.S. farmers have adopted innovative technologies to reduce methyl bromide use and emissions, such as reduced methyl bromide concentrations in mixtures, and the use of tarps to retain methyl bromide in the soil for longer periods of time.

While not as highly damaging to the ozone layer as other chemicals that have already been phased out (like chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs), scientists have reaffirmed methyl bromide status as a powerful ozone-depleting chemical. The World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme 2006 Scientific Assessment recently affirmed that bromine continues to play a major role in stratospheric ozone depletion. The ongoing transition to methyl bromide alternatives continues to be an important priority for EPA.

EPA's release of the aggregate inventory numbers was made possible by the conclusion of two lawsuits that had been brought to prevent the release of the aggregate data.

For more information: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr/