Wednesday August 2, 2023

Earth Justice

The Yurok, Port Gamble S’Klallam, and Puyallup Tribes today petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish regulations prohibiting the manufacturing, processing, use, and distribution of 6PPD in and for tires — a chemical used by companies worldwide. When 6PPD reacts with ground-level ozone, it breaks down into 6PPD-q — the second most toxic chemical to aquatic species ever evaluated by the EPA. Exposure to 6PPD-q can kill coho salmon within hours, and the chemical is responsible for “urban runoff mortality syndrome,” which kills up to 100% of coho returning to spawn in urban streams. The Tribes contend that 6PPD in tires poses unreasonable risks to the environment, requiring the EPA to regulate the chemical under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

“To see 6PPD-q kill the salmon that are reared in the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s own streams and from its own hatchery is an unconscionable slap in the face to a people who rely on salmon for their wellbeing, in addition to being a gross violation of the Tribe’s rights as enshrined in the 1855 Treaty of Point No Point,” said Josh Carter, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s environmental scientist. “If EPA truly cares about protecting the environment and the Tribe’s Treaty Rights, not just industry’s pocketbooks, it will act now.”

The use of 6PPD in tires generates ongoing, ubiquitous contamination of surface waters near roads with 6PPD-q, killing coho salmon, rainbow trout, steelhead trout, Chinook salmon, brook trout, white spotted char, and likely other species that have not yet been studied. Salmon and steelhead populations — central to the ecosystems, cultures and economies of communities throughout the West Coast — have already declined dramatically, and scientific and regulatory authorities believe 6PPD use in tires has played a major role. Many populations of coho salmon, steelhead trout, and Chinook salmon are listed as endangered or threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act, underscoring the need for urgent action from the EPA.

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