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U.S. EPA requires San Francisco-based Wilbur-Ellis to properly manage agricultural pesticides throughout California, New Mexico

03/10/2020
Contact Information: 
Margot Perez-Sullivan (perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov)
415-947-4149

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Wilbur-Ellis for the improper storage, labeling and containment of bulk agricultural pesticides at its facilities in Willows, Helm and El Nido, California, and Farmington, New Mexico. The firm, a pesticide re-packager and distributor, has corrected all identified compliance issues and agreed to a systematic evaluation of the company’s overall compliance system and subsequent firmwide implementation of improvements to its management systems, and stopped repackaging pesticides altogether at three of the four facilities. In addition, the company will pay $73,372 in civil penalties.

The violations were discovered through a series of inspections conducted by the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation from 2016 to 2018.  Based on those inspection findings, EPA asserted Wilbur-Ellis had committed 14 violations under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which regulates the safe distribution, sale and use of pesticides in the U.S.

“Pesticide companies must properly manage and label bulk agriculture pesticides to protect workers and the environment,” said John Busterud, Regional Administrator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest office. “We are pleased the company is taking steps to ensure all of their facilities comply with federal pesticide requirements.” 

The company failed to properly label pesticides and violated pesticide containment regulations at four of the company’s facilities.  Based on information gathered during the inspections, the EPA determined that Wilbur-Ellis held pesticides for sale in bulk containers with misbranded labeling that failed to include directions for use and/or net contents, failed to maintain required recordkeeping for repackaged pesticides, failed to keep a containment pad and secondary containment unit liquid-tight, failed to have an appropriate holding capacity for its containment pad and a secondary containment unit, and failed to anchor or elevate bulk stationary pesticide containers. Each of these violations increases the risk of a pesticide release.

California accounts for a quarter of all agricultural pesticides used each year in the U.S., and more than half of that amount is applied in the San Joaquin Valley alone. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (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.

FIFRA regulations help safeguard the public by ensuring that pesticides are used, stored and disposed of safely, and that pesticide containers are adequately cleaned. Pesticide registrants and refillers (i.e., those that repackage pesticides into refillable containers) must comply with the regulations, while consumers are required to follow the label instructions for proper use and disposal.

For more information on FIFRA pesticide containment requirements , please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/pesticide-containment-structures

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