Originally created 07/13/97

EPA restricts areas for medfly spraying



TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Officials restricted pesticide spraying for the Mediterranean fruit fly after residents complained it was getting into water.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday expanded the no-spray zone around specific bodies of water from 660 feet to nearly 1,000 feet. Tests showed the pesticide malathion was getting into surface water.

Other federal officials in charge of stopping the spread of the crop-destroying pest said the measure is a devastating blow to the eradication program in three Tampa-area counties.

"We can't achieve our goal with a buffer that size," said program co-director Terry McGovern of the Department of Agriculture. "We will comply - and we will appeal."

Under the new rules, officials also are required to give residents 24 hours notice before airborne spraying, said Carol Kemker, chief of pesticides and toxic substances for the EPA's southeastern region.

Officials have used aerial and ground spraying to fight the medfly. They also plan to release 300 million sterile medflies to slow the pest's population growth.

The infestation is threatening Florida's citrus crop. Once larvae burrow into fruits and vegetables, the produce spoils quickly and drops prematurely.