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