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U.S. EPA fines landscaping business $12,300 after misused pesticides reach Northern California waterway

Release Date: 07/15/2008
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 07/15/08) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined a Houston-based landscaping service company $12,300 for causing two pesticides to enter a tributary of the Klamath River after employees failed to follow pesticide label instructions -- violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Clean Water Act.

    In April 2007, Trees, Inc. sprayed pesticides Direx 4L and Garlon 4 in a pool of water abutting Junior Creek, which feeds into the Klamath River on the Resighini Rancheria tribal lands in Northern California. Both pesticide labels prohibit applicators from applying the products directly to water or to areas where surface water is present.

    “Klamath River watershed, from the Oregon border to the Pacific Ocean, supports several native fish species, including coho and steelhead salmon,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA is committed to working with the tribe and California to enforce federal laws to protect these valued resources.”

    The Resighini Rancheria notified the EPA of the violations, who then investigated the company’s pesticide application. The tribe provided the EPA with water sampling and testing results, which later showed both pesticides had entered Junior Creek.

    Pesticides that are registered for use in the United States must include labeling that provides directions for use and other information necessary to protect human health and the environment. FIFRA requires that pesticide applicators comply with labeling directions during commercial pesticide applications to protect workers, the surrounding community and the environment

    The CWA requires companies that discharge into waterways, to obtain a pollutant discharge permit, which contain limits on discharges, monitoring and reporting requirements, and other provisions to ensure that water quality and human health are protected. By not following label directions and allowing the pesticides to reach the stream, Trees, Inc. also violated the CWA in lacking a permit to discharge.

    For more information on pesticide regulations and enforcement, please visit the EPA’s Web site at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/fifra/index.html
    For more information on water permits and enforcement, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/enforcement.html
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