WASHINGTON — A federal judge Tuesday delayed for a week acting on a request that he order the Environmental Protection Agency to ban sales of chlordane, a termite-killer that causes cancer in laboratory animals and has been used in 30 million homes.
U.S. Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer said he wants the EPA to study the terms of the proposed ban. If he decides to halt sales of the pesticide, as requested by several environmental organizations, it will be the first time a court has ordered the agency to take such sweeping action.
The proposal before the court drew strong opposition from the EPA's lawyers, who said the agency did not have enough scientific evidence to support such a ban. They said also that a sales ban would jeopardize the agreement the EPA has reached with the manufacturer of chlordane to halt production.
Last month, EPA officials said the Velsicol Chemical Corp. would stop producing chlordane until new tests show that it can be used safely. Earlier this year, EPA tests determined that three of every 1,000 people living in houses where chlordane has been properly applied run the risk of developing cancer.