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Plans Reversed For Spraying Pesticides On Oyster Beds

Washington environmental regulators have reversed their decision to allow pesticide spraying on oyster beds after a public outcry about the use of toxic chemicals.

The state Department of Ecology had previously issued a permit to apply a pesticide to areas of Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay where oyster producers want to kill a type of shrimp that burrows into shellfish beds. The shellfish producers say they need to kill the shrimp because it make the ground so soft that their oysters suffocate.

But after a week of public criticism, Ecology officials met on Sunday with members of the Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association. The same day, Ecology Director Maia Bellon announced their decision to cancel the pesticide-spraying permit.

"We've heard loud and clear from people across Washington that this permit didn't meet their expectations," she said in a statement.

A Seattle Times column reported last week on the plans to spray the pesticide, which contains neurotoxic chemicals. Restaurant owners an environmental groups criticized the decision.

The president of the oyster growers association indicated in a letter that pressure from the public and restaurants played a big factor in the decision.

"We believe we have no choice but to withdraw our permit and address these issues to the satisfaction of our customer base, and the public," association president Don Gilles wrote in his letter requesting the withdrawal of the permit.

The letter was submitted on Sunday. Ecology said it would complete the paperwork to cancel the permit on Monday.

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