Appeal on the Issuance of a Permit for the Use of Methyl Bromide

Case Number: SLS Simulation No. 98-004
Title: Appeal on the Issuance of a Permit for the Use of Methyl Bromide
Author: Barton H. (“Buzz”) Thompson, Jr., Robert E. Paradise Professor of Natural Resources Law and Flora Y. F. Chu, Lecturer

Abstract: The simulation centers around methyl bromide, a potent neurotoxin that is used extensively as a fumigant in the strawberry fields in California. Modeled after a real dispute in Castroville California, it focuses on the appeal by a group of residents regarding the issuance of a permit for the use of methyl bromide near their homes. These residents have long expressed concerns about the potential health effects that can result from the drift of methyl bromide during fumigation. This appeal is part of their effort stop or restrict the use of methyl bromide. Students are assigned to be either the legal, scientific, or community representatives of the residents or the staff from the administrative agency overseeing the issuance of permits. They submit trial briefs and present oral testimony and arguments before an administrative hearing officer in support of their respective positions. This simulation trains students to acquire the basic skills in research, writing, and the presentation of scientific and legal information and arguments to lay and regulatory audiences. In addition, students learn how to determine and understand the underlying causes of the scientific debate and conflicting views surrounding the safe use of methyl bromide.

Key Words: Pesticides, administrative hearing, methyl bromide, scientific uncertainty, pesticide fumigation, pesticide drift.