Lo­cal ag sup­plier cited by EPA for pes­ti­cide vi­o­la­tions

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Front Page - By Danielle Vaughn NEWS-SEN­TINEL STAFF WRITER

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.

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