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EPA takes enforcement action against the Wilbur-Ellis Company for 21 violations of federal pesticide law

National pesticide distributor and applicator fined nearly $100,000 following pesticide violations

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By: U.S. EPA Region 9

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. Nov. 3, 2009 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined a California-based national distributor of agricultural products, the Wilbur-Ellis Company, $99,600 for 21 alleged violations of federal pesticide law.

The case was the result of investigations conducted by regulators in Arizona, Idaho, Navajo Nation, Ft. Mojave Indian Tribe, and EPA's Pacific Southwest and Pacific Northwest Regional Offices.

"Through the cooperation of several regulatory agencies, we were able to bring to the attention of this large corporation some serious problems," said Katherine Taylor, associate director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division in EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "Failure to include personal protective equipment requirements on a label for a highly toxic pesticide is a serious violation of federal pesticide laws."

Following a Fort Mojave Indian Tribe inspector's discovery of a pesticide product with a single page copy of a label which appeared to be missing several key safety elements, the U.S. EPA requested that Arizona conduct an inspection of Wilbur-Ellis Company. In 2007, Arizona Department of Agriculture investigators found that the Wilbur-Ellis facility in Ehrenberg, Arizona was distributing and selling a misbranded pesticide, in violation of federal law. A separate inspection in 2008 by Arizona Department of Agriculture investigators found that Wilbur-Ellis was distributing a minimum risk pesticide with a label that failed to meet the regulatory requirements.

Navajo Nation EPA, Idaho Department of Agriculture and U.S. EPA inspectors found the following significant violations:

• Navajo Nation EPA found Wilbur-Ellis applicators on Navajo Nation were not wearing Personal Protective Equipment as required by pesticide labels.

• Numerous pesticides were found to be misbranded by Idaho Department of Agriculture and U.S. EPA Region 10 inspectors. Among the misbranded products was Vengeance Plus, a highly toxic pesticide which Wilbur-Ellis Company distributed and sold with a label that failed to include protective equipment requirements for applicators.

• U.S. EPA Region 10 inspectors documented distribution of a Restricted Use Pesticide by Wilbur-Ellis Company to a non-certified applicator at Yakima, WA

The Wilbur-Ellis Company has agreed to pay the fine to resolve this enforcement action.

Before selling or distributing any pesticide in the United States, companies are required to register the pesticide with the EPA and include labeling approved by EPA that includes directions for use and other information necessary to protect human health and the environment. Federal law requires that pesticide applicators comply with these labeling directions during pesticide applications to protect their workers and the public.

For more information on pesticide regulation and enforcement, please visit: www.epa.gov/pesticides

 

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