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News Releases from Region 09

U.S. EPA requires San Joaquin Valley ag company to safely manage pesticides

Contact Information: 
Michele Huitric (huitric.michele@epa.gov)

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Mid Valley Agricultural Services, Inc., over misbranded and improperly stored agricultural pesticides. The chemical and fertilizer retailer has agreed to pay $76,240 in civil penalties and is now in compliance with the law.

Mid Valley Ag has facilities throughout the Central Valley, including in the communities of Linden and Hughson, where inspections by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation in 2012 and 2014 found violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The inspections were conducted on behalf of EPA to determine compliance with FIFRA, which regulates the safe distribution, sale and use of pesticides in the U.S.

“When not managed properly, pesticides can pose a serious risk to people and the environment,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Facilities that produce highly toxic pesticides must protect the safety of their workers and anyone using their products.”

The company’s Linden facility, which produces and dispenses pesticide products to agricultural customers, sold and distributed a “restricted use” pesticide, ‘Firestorm,’ with labels lacking the required storage and safe disposal language. EPA classifies some pesticides as restricted use because of their potential to harm the environment or injure applicators or bystanders. These products are not available for purchase by the general public and can only be used by certified applicators or someone under their direct supervision.

In addition, the Linden facility had failed to seal cracks in its secondary containment structures, was improperly monitoring levels of liquid pesticide in its storage tanks, and failed to protect pesticide dispensing equipment against damage. All these violations can lead to an increased risk of pesticide spills and leaks to the environment.

At the Hughson facility, Mid Valley Ag sold and distributed ‘IAP 440 Spray Oil,’ used as insecticide to protect fruit and other crops, with labels that lacked the batch code and content information. Among other things, batch codes can be used to track pesticide distributions. This helps agencies respond appropriately if health or environmental problems are tied to a specific pesticide product.

At both the Linden facility and the Hughson facility, pesticide storage containers were labeled with the incorrect EPA establishment number. This number is used to identify where the product was last produced, and is crucial in maintaining product integrity.

FIFRA authorizes EPA to review and register pesticides for specified uses, to regulate safe storage and disposal of pesticides, and to conduct inspections and enforce pesticide requirements. Under FIFRA, EPA labels include directions for use and statements to minimize the risks associated with the product, including which personal protective equipment, such as protective eyewear or gloves, should be worn to protect those using the product.

For more information on FIFRA, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/lfra.html

For more information on FIFRA and its enforcement, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act  

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