A California judge has ordered a halt to a state-run program of spraying pesticides on public lands and some private property, saying officials failed to assess the potential health effects as required.
Superior Court Judge James Arguelles ordered the Department of Food and Agriculture to suspend all spraying under the Statewide Plant Pest Prevention and Management Program within two months, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.
The ruling follows a state appeals court’s decision in October that found the program violated the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to conduct site-specific environmental reviews and notify the public before sprays. The lower court also found the program didn’t appropriately consider contamination to water bodies or mitigate harm on bees and that the department understated existing pesticide use.
More than 75 pesticides have been used in the program, according to environmental and health organizations that sued the state along with the city of Berkeley.
“This court ruling stopping indiscriminate pesticide spraying by the state is a huge victory for public health, the environment and species impacted by toxic pesticides,” said Rebecca Spector, West Coast director for the Center for Food Safety.
The Department of Food and Agriculture did not immediately respond to requests for comment by the Chronicle. The agency could appeal the judge’s order.