Syn­genta must pay $150K for Kauai farm vi­o­la­tions, EPA says

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - BUSINESS - By Star-Ad­ver­tiser staff

The U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and Syn­genta Seeds LLC have reached a set­tle­ment con­cern­ing safety vi­o­la­tions af­fect­ing field work­ers on Kauai.

Un­der the agree­ment reached Mon­day, Syn­genta, do­ing busi­ness as Syn­genta Hawaii LLC, will pay a civil penalty of $150,000. The com­pany also will spend $400,000 on 11 worker pro­tec­tion train­ing ses­sions for agri­cul­tural work­ers in Hawaii, Guam and the North­ern Mar­i­ana Is­lands.

Syn­genta will de­velop a cur­ricu­lum and train­ing ma­te­ri­als on pes­ti­cide safety for work­ers. The com­pany also is ex­pected to cre­ate com­pli­ance kits to be used at train­ing ses­sions that will be trans­lated into Man­darin, Korean, Ta­ga­log and Ilo­cano.

The ma­te­ri­als will be avail­able later for fur­ther dis­tri­bu­tion on the com­pany’s web­site.

In a news re­lease, Alexis Strauss, the EPA’s act­ing re­gional ad­min­is­tra­tor for the Pa­cific South­west, said, “Re­duc­ing pes­ti­cide ex­po­sure for the mil­lions of farm work­ers who cul­ti­vate our food is a high pri­or­ity for EPA.”

Strauss added, “This set­tle­ment will bring to Hawaii and Pa­cific Is­land grow­ers much-needed train­ing to pro­tect agri­cul­tural work­ers.”

In an emailed state­ment, Syn­genta spokesman Paul Mine­hart said, “Agri­cul­tural worker safety is a top pri­or­ity for Syn­genta and safe use train­ing has for many years been an in­te­gral part of the way the com­pany does busi­ness world­wide.”

The EPA had ac­cused Syn­genta of fail­ing to no­tify work­ers on two sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions — in Jan­uary 2016 and Jan­uary 2017 — to avoid fields in Kekaha that re­cently were sprayed with an in­sec­ti­cide con­tain­ing chlor­pyri­fos.

The fed­eral agency also claimed the com­pany failed to “pro­vide both ad­e­quate de­con­tam­i­na­tion sup­plies on-site and prompt trans­porta­tion to a med­i­cal fa­cil­ity for ex­posed work­ers.”

In Jan­uary 2016, 19 work­ers en­tered a corn­field about 20 hours af­ter the field was sprayed with chlor­pyri­fos. The wait pe­riod to re-en­ter is 24 hours. Syn­genta had said a su­per­vi­sor had work­ers im­me­di­ately leave the field af­ter he re­al­ized the er­ror.

All took show­ers to de­con­tam­i­nate af­ter ex­it­ing the area, and 10 work­ers were trans­ported to Kauai Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal to be ex­am­ined.

Symp­toms of ex­po­sure to chlor­pyri­fos in­clude nau­sea, headaches, dizzi­ness, dif­fi­culty

This set­tle­ment will bring to Hawaii and Pa­cific Is­land grow­ers much­needed train­ing to pro­tect agri­cul­tural work­ers.”

Alexis Strauss

EPA act­ing re­gional ad­min­is­tra­tor for the Pa­cific South­west

breath­ing and ab­dom­i­nal cramp­ing, ac­cord­ing to the EPA.

A Wis­con­sin-based com­pany, Har­tung Broth­ers Inc., ac­quired Syn­genta’s op­er­a­tions on Kauai and Oahu in the sum­mer of 2017. Un­der the ac­qui­si­tion, Syn­genta con­tracts Hawaii-based seed pro­duc­tions from Har­tung.

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2013

Work­ers fol­low a corn plant­ing ma­chine to make sure seeds are planted prop­erly. The EPA and Syn­genta Seeds LLC reached a set­tle­ment re­quir­ing the com­pany to pay a penalty of $150,000 and spend $400,000 on em­ployee train­ing ses­sions.

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