Local ag supplier cited by EPA for pesticide violations
Local agricultural supply retailer San Joaquin Sulphur Company will have to pay $25,127 in a civil penalty after a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over violations of the federal pesticide law.
According to Soledad Calvino, a spokeswoman for the EPA, San Joaquin Sulphur Company sold a pesticide that was unregistered, improperly labeled and sold in inadequate packaging at its Lodi facility.
However, Jan Chandler, San Joaquin Sulphur Company’s president, disputes the EPA’s claims. The company has always complied with environmental regulations, she said.
After a routine inspection in 2015, EPA personnel found the San Joaquin Sulfur Company in violation of several sections of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which regulates the storage, labeling, distribution, sale and use of pesticides in the U.S., the agency reported in a press release.
The company sold zinc sulphate 36 percent as a pesticide to control mold and moss on roofs, Calvino said. According to the EPA inspectors, the product, which is corrosive and can cause irreversible eye damage, was sold in ziptop bags and had been repackaged from a 50pound bag of zinc sulphate fertilizer.
This pesticide had not been registered with EPA and the company had not been authorized to produce pesticides, Calvino said. They also failed to use child-resistant packaging to minimize exposure to children, pets and non-target pests and failed to include required label information, including the warning “keep out of reach of children,” she said.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation issued a Pesticide Statutes Violation Notice at the time of inspection, and the San Joaquin Sulphur Company cooperated with the EPA to resolve the matter, Calvino said.
San Joaquin Sulfur Company, however, argues that they were not in violation because the zinc sulphate was not being sold as a pesticide but as a fertilizer. “The U.S. EPA’s interpretation of the facts are completely inaccurate. We are the victim of overzealous federal regulators,” Chandler said in a statement she issued to the News-Sentinel on Wednesday afternoon.
“San Joaquin Sulphur Company has a long and unblemished history of compliance with all federal, state, county and local environmental regulations. We proudly continue to serve our agricultural community in a safe and responsible manner.”
Chandler called the penalty a misinterpretation of regulations and a complete waste of regulators’ time, public tax dollars and the company’s time and money.
The settlement will have little effect on the company moving forward, Chandler said, but she feels that the $25,127 fine doesn’t match the infraction the EPA inspectors reported.
“It was a 5-pound (bag) of fertilizer which doesn’t fall under EPA regulations,” she said.
San Joaquin Sulphur Company has never been cited in the past, Calvino said. The regulations the EPA accused the company of violating have been in place for decades, although they have been amended in the past.
Any company with questions about EPA regulations or that want to make sure they are in compliance may visit the EPA’s Pesticide Registration website at
www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration, and the EPA Pesticides website at www.epa.gov/pesticides.