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The US is testing new flame retardants and critics are pushing for other ways | National News

By Keith Riddler-The Associated Press

Boise, Idaho (AP) — US authorities are testing a new wildfire flame retardant 20 years after purchasing millions of gallons each year from a supplier, but observers hire more fire rigs. At the expense of the ground crew, expensive strategies say they are overly obsessed with aerial attacks.

For the first time in 2020, the Forest Department used more than 50 million gallons (190 million liters) of flame retardants as more and more devastating wildfires struck the west. It surpassed 50 million gallons last year to fight the largest and longest wildfires in history in California and other states. The cost of flame retardants over the last two years has reached nearly $ 200 million.

For the past 10 years, distributors have used 30 million gallons (115 million liters) annually.

“Because two wildfires are not the same, it is important to make different tools available to fire managers in different situations where a fire can occur,” the Forest Department emailed. It is stated in. “Flame retardants are just one of those tools.”

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According to the Forestry Department, the tests, which started last summer, continue this summer with magnesium chloride-based flame retardants from the fortress.

Fortress claims that its retarder is more effective and environmentally friendly than the products offered by Perimeter Solutions. The company says its ammonium phosphate-based flame retardants are excellent.

The fortress began in 2014 with a former wild firefighter aiming to create a more environmentally friendly and more effective flame retardant. With facilities in California, Montana and Wyoming, it explains that it is the only alternative to fertilizer-based flame retardants.

The company is headed by Chief Executive Officer Bob Burnham. Bob Burnham began his career as a crew member of a hotshot fighting wildfire, eventually becoming a Type 1 incident commander, having hundreds of firefighters fight one of the largest wildfires in the country. .. He often called on aircraft to disperse the red flame retardant plume. He said he is now wondering after learning more about fertilizer-based flame retardants and developing new flame retardants.

“This new flame retardant is better,” he said. “It will significantly reduce damage to our sensitive planetary resources and greatly improve flame retardancy on the ground.”

Magnesium chloride, the main component of fortress products, is extracted from the Great Salt Lake, Utah. The company states that this method and process is more environmentally friendly and produces less greenhouse gases than phosphate mining and processing. Last summer, the Forestry Department announced that it would test the company’s FR-100 and this summer it would test a version called the FR-200.

With facilities and equipment throughout the west, Perimeter Solutions has made many name and ownership changes over the years, but has dominated the market for over 20 years. The company’s Phos-Chek LC-95A is the most used flame retardant in the world. The company is migrating to a new flame retardant called Phos-Chek LCE20-Fx. It is made of food grade ingredients, making it a cleaner product.

“We are confident that the products we manufacture are the safest, most effective and most environmentally friendly products available,” said Chief Executive Officer Edward Goldberg. “We have spent decades in partnership with (Forest Services).”

Phosphate is mined in multiple locations. Goldberg said he is taking phosphate both domestically and internationally, including in Idaho. He refused to go into details, but said the company was independent of China and Ukraine and replaced Russia and Belarus with other suppliers.

According to the Forestry Department, this summer’s testing with the FR-200 will be limited to single-engine air tankers flying from the air tanker base in Ronan, Montana. This seems to prevent the mixing of delay agents in the enterprise.

Two forestry monitoring groups claim that both types of flame retardants are harmful to the environment, and authorities argue that the cost of flame retardants should be reduced and that firefighters should spend more. increase.

Andy Stahl, Executive Director of Forest Services Employees for Environmental Ethics, and Timothy Ingalsby, Executive Director of the Union of Firefighters for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology, are ammonium phosphate-based retarders. Said that it is essentially a fertilizer that can boost invading plants and can also cause algae growing in lakes and reservoirs when cleaning downstream. They said magnesium chloride-based flame retardants are essentially salts that can inhibit plant growth where it falls and harm endangered species. ..

Both are concerned about the direct impact on waterways that are flame-retardant and potentially harmful to aquatic species. Aircraft are usually limited to giving a stream 300 feet (90 meters) of buffer from flame retardants, but the Forest Department allows them to fall into the buffer under certain conditions and can occur accidentally. There is also.

“Their theory is that it’s a war and when you’re in a war you’ll be collateral damage,” Stahl said. “It’s a complex of firefighting industries that combines corporate-government relationships with no interest in ending the wildfire war. It’s growing.”

Today, much of the west is suffering from drought. The National Inter-Ministry Fire Center in Boise, Idaho reports that there have been more than 31,000 wildfires burning about 5,000 square miles (13,000 square kilometers) so far this year. This is well above the 10-year average of about 24,000 wildfires and 2,000 square miles (5,000 square kilometers) of burning during the same period.

Climate change has made the west much warmer and drier over the last three decades, making wildfire seasons longer and longer, and scientists have long warned that the weather will get rougher as the world warms.

Copyright 2022 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

The US is testing new flame retardants and critics are pushing for other ways | National News

Source link The US is testing new flame retardants and critics are pushing for other ways | National News

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