Board Recommends Improved Procedures for Arsenic Beetle Treatments
VICTORIA – Improved safety procedures and greater transparency are required to protect the public from the effects of arsenic treatments used to control bark beetle infestations, the Forest Practices Board reported today.
The recommendations respond to a board investigation of a 2003 complaint by a Francois Lake resident about the use of an arsenic-based pesticide to control bark beetles in the Nadina Forest District. The complainant alleged that the arsenic compounds were spreading to other animals and humans, arsenic treatments were applied near private property, and that arsenic-treated trees were not tracked, and were eventually logged and milled, causing potential harm to both forestry and mill workers and the general public.
“The board commends the complainant for bringing this issue to our attention,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “The Ministry of Forests has been proactive in addressing many of the issues raised by the complainant and this will help prevent similar situations from arising in the future.”
The investigation found that the arsenic treatments complied with forest practices legislation, and other legislation is in place which is better suited to regulate the use of pesticides on trees. The report concluded that the Ministry of Forests used misleading terminology in its advertisements on the arsenic treatments, and that arsenic-treated trees were harvested and milled within a year of treatment, leading to an increased risk of exposure to workers and the general public.
“It is critical that arsenic-treated trees be tracked by government and only treated in isolated locations to avoid any risk of exposure,” said Fraser. “We have made substantive recommendations to make sure that tracking procedures are significantly improved and that the public is fully and accurately informed about arsenic treatments in their area.
“We note that the Nadina Forest District has already acted on many of the concerns identified in the report, and we have asked government to report back on our recommendations to make sure that appropriate procedures for arsenic treatments are applied throughout the province.”
The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog that reports to the public about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent. The board’s mandate has been retained under the new Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). The board’s main roles under FRPA are:
- Auditing forest practices of government and licence holders on public lands.
- Auditing government enforcement of FRPA.
- Investigating public complaints.
- Undertaking special investigations of forestry issues.
- Participating in administrative appeals.
- Providing reports on board activities, findings and recommendations.
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 356-1586 / 1 800 994-5899
November 12, 2004