Environmental groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Montana, alleging that the U.S. Forest Service polluted waterways by inadvertently dropping flame retardants into or near waterways. was dropped by an aircraft while assisting wild firefighters on the ground.
According to the lawsuit, government data released earlier this year showed that more than 760,000 gallons of flame retardants were dumped into waterways between 2012 and 2019. The lawsuit alleges that the continued use of flame retardants from aircraft violates the Clean Water Act and requires a judge to declare the pollution illegal. .
The Forest Service has established flame retardant avoidance zones where liquids must not be sprayed along waterways. This creates buffer zones around watercourses and habitats for endangered, endangered and sensitive species to avoid the application of flame retardants in these areas. When they were first established in his 2011, approximately 30% of USFS land resulted in fire retardant off-limits during firefighting. Exceptions are when life or public safety is threatened. The policy was the result of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that studied the use of flame retardants and how they affect water resources and certain plant and wildlife species. The EIS was created in response to his July 2010 ruling by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in a lawsuit filed by Forest Service officials for environmental ethics in 2008.
The same organization, FSEEE, filed a new lawsuit yesterday. Tim Vectored, a Missoula, Missoula attorney who specializes in environmental law, will represent his FSEEE. The case is presided over by District Court Judge Dana Christensen. He joined the court in 2011 after being nominated by President Barack Obama. Previously, he was a partner in the companies of Christensen, Moore, Cockrell, Cummings, and Axelberg in Kalispell, Montana. One of the 15 business areas that the company deals with today is the environment and natural resources.
In 2012 the FSEEE released a statement criticizing the use of air tankers in fires, claiming it was “immoral”. The group argued that aerial firefighting was too dangerous to be effective, stating, “Inhibitors don’t save homes. Proper construction and landscaping do.”