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Pesticide judgment seen as significant ruling supporting future worker protection: US EPA

Release Date: 9/15/2005
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      Court validates agency’s efforts

      DENVER -- The judgment last month of Administrative Law Judge Spencer T. Nissen in a case involving Petrocco Farms represents an important decision for the US Environmental Protection Agency because the amount of the penalty is significant, and the decision confirms worker protection standard enforcement under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Although Judge Nissen reduced the penalty sought by US EPA, the penalty still indicates that WPS violations are taken seriously.

Mike Risner, director of the Region 8 legal enforcement program, said, “EPA hopes that the substantial penalty the Judge assessed on the 220 violations will serve as a deterrent for potential future violations of these important standards to protect agricultural field workers.”

Although EPA disagrees with some portions of the decision, EPA is not appealing the case. The Aug. 4 decision becomes final on Sept. 19.
    The Worker Protection Standard is designed to reduce the risk of illness or injury resulting from agricultural field workers occupational exposure to pesticides. The standard was phased in over several years with all provisions becoming effective April 15, 1994. Although assuring compliance with the standard has been a national priority for EPA, inspections have documented a high violation rate.

    Petrocco Farms had been cited for violations in 2001, and a 2002 re-inspection documented continuing violations. This case was the subject of an administrative hearing in April 2004.