U.S. EPA fines agricultural products companies

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U.S. EPA fines agricultural products companies $74,880 for pesticide violations in Calif. and Ariz.
Violations increased risk of pesticide release to the environment

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced settlements with two companies selling agricultural chemicals in Arizona and California over improper storage and containment of federally regulated pesticides.

San Francisco, Calif-based agricultural products company Wilbur-Ellis must pay $62,080 in civil penalties and, separately, Collierville, Tenn.-based agricultural products company Helena Chemical must pay $12,800 in civil penalties. Both companies had multiple violations under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which regulates the distribution, sale and use of pesticides in the U.S.

“Failing to meet standards for properly managing pesticides puts workers and the environment at risk,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Regulated facilities must ensure that protection of our health and environment is a top priority.”

The violations were found during April 2011, January 2012, and January 2013 inspections conducted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Arizona Department of Agriculture, and have since been corrected.

Wilbur-Ellis facilities in Glenn, Calif., Hughson, Calif., and Buckeye, Ariz. had unsealed cracks in the floors and/or walls of the facilities’ pesticide containment areas, and, in addition, the Glenn facility was found to have an undersized containment area. The company’s Glenn and Hughson facilities were found to have improper safeguards for pesticide equipment, such as hoses and valves, which increases the risk of a pesticide release to the environment. Additionally, the Hughson facility was improperly using an external site gauge to monitor levels of liquid pesticide in a storage tank, a violation that increases the risk of a pesticide release. Further, Wilbur-Ellis was also cited for inadequate tank labeling, recordkeeping, and inspection documentation.

Helena Chemical’s Hanford, Calif. pesticide repackaging facility was found to have an inadequate containment area for potential pesticide spills that may occur during offloading of pesticides from trucks, and inadequate safeguards for pesticide equipment, which increase the risk of a pesticide release to the environment.

In total, Helena Chemical and Wilbur-Ellis operate hundreds of pesticide facilities nationwide.

For more information on EPA’s pesticide container/containment regulations, that include the requirements at issue in these cases, visit: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/regulating/containers.htm

For more information on FIFRA, visit: http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/lfra.html#Summary%20of%20the%20Federal%20Insecticide,%20Fungicide,%20and%20Rodenticide%20Act