Ground Truth: Fire Truth, FSEEE in the News

FSEEE Criticizes Fire Retardant Use

New retardant is just a different type of pollution.

FSEEE Executive Director Andy Stahl’s criticism of aerial fire retardant use by the Forest Service went out on the Associated Press newswire in an article written by Keith Ridler.

Timothy Ingalsbee, executive director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology, joined Andy in saying, “the ammonium-phosphates-based retardant is essentially a fertilizer that can boost invasive plants” and is potentially responsible for toxic algae blooms in lakes or reservoirs when it washes downstream.

As Ridler reports, the Forest Service is testing a new magnesium-chloride-based fire retardant, but Andy said the retardant is essentially a salt that will inhibit plant growth, harming threatened species.

He and Ingalsbee both expressed concerns “about direct hits to waterways” with either type of retardant and “potential harm to aquatic species.”

Thanks to a lawsuit by FSEEE, slurry bombers are supposed to respect a 300-foot buffer zone when they drop their chemical payload. But the Forest Service allows drops within the buffer under certain conditions, and sometimes retardant is unintentionally dropped on waterways.

“Their theory is that it’s a war, and when you’re in a war you’re going to have collateral damage,” Andy said. “It’s the fire-industrial complex, the nexus between corporate and government agencies combined, with really no interest in ending making warfare on wildfires. It’s ever-increasing.”

This is why FSEEE has delivered a notice of intent to file another lawsuit against the Forest Service for violations of the Clean Water Act, which prohibits the discharge of pollutants into U.S. waters without a permit.