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EPA Cites Two Suffolk County Firms for Selling Off-Spec, Misbranded Pesticides

Release Date: 07/19/2006
Contact Information: Rich Cahill, (212) 637-3666 or cahill.richard@epa.gov

(New York, NY) A pesticide producer and a telemarketer/distributor in Suffolk County, New York have been cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for multiple violations of the federal pesticide law. EPA is seeking financial penalties totaling nearly $1.5 million in separate complaints against the Topaz Turf Corporation in Holtsville and Southern Chemical Supply, Inc. in Bohemia, which used Topaz as its supplier. EPA is alleging the companies distributed off-spec and misbranded pesticides to the public since at least October 2003. In addition, the agency charged Topaz with selling an unregistered pesticide (to kill insects on plants) and failing to maintain and furnish production records. EPA also alleges that Southern made misstatements in the sale of the pesticides.

Pesticide products, in this case weed killers, contain a percentage of active chemical ingredients that are approved by EPA for a specific end-use. By law, these registered formulations must match the information on the product label, which must have the correct EPA product registration numbers.

EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said, “Companies that sell pesticides that are misformulated, unregistered or misbranded to unsuspecting customers and telemarketers that make misstatements are not only doing a disservice to the public and the environment, they are shooting their businesses in the proverbial foot.”

On February 28, 2006, EPA issued stop sale orders against Topaz and Southern based on the findings of joint inspections of the Holtsville and Bohemia facilities with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). The stop sale orders and complaints against the two companies resulted from an EPA and state initiative to investigate pesticide producers, distributors and telemarketers on Long Island.

NYSDEC Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan said, “New York State is committed to enforcing the stringent pesticide laws and regulations in order to ensure the protection of public health and the environment. DEC was pleased to work with EPA in this investigation into the alleged illegal distribution and misbranding of herbicides and will continue to work with our partners on the federal, state and local levels to bring violators to justice.”

Topaz wrote EPA on April 11, 2006 indicating that it had conducted an investigation of the problems in manufacturing and documentation that were uncovered by EPA and the state and the company said that these problems have been corrected. Southern wrote EPA on March 29, 2006 that it had implemented procedures to minimize the risk of any misstatements by its sales force.

The complaints are seeking $797,500 from the Topaz Turf Corporation and $702,000 from Southern Chemical for multiple violations of federal law. The owners/operators of both companies can request a hearing to contest the allegations in the complaints, enter into settlement discussions and present documented proof of compliance with the applicable federal environmental regulations.

More information on EPA's pesticides program: epa.gov/pesticides

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