US regulator fines Bayer CropScience over pesticide violations

13 December 2013 23:33 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Bayer CropScience has agreed to pay a $53,000 (€39,000) civil penalty to settle allegations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it violated federal regulations governing the use of pesticides on farms, the agency confirmed on Friday.

Bayer CropScience operates a research facility and nursery in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico. According to the EPA, the company failed to follow federal rules aimed at reducing or eliminating the exposure of farm workers to chemicals.

EPA officials said the company has agreed to pay the fine and has pledged to undertake measures to better protect the health of the workers and come into full compliance with the federal pesticide law.

The case started in April 2012 with EPA officials and investigators with the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture visiting the Sabana Grande farm to evaluate compliance with the federal pesticide law. Interviews with farm employees and a review of pesticide application records revealed that Bayer had failed to comply with numerous provisions.

Most notably, the company failed to have an ample supply of water, soap and towels for routine washing, as well as an emergency decontamination area for workers. In addition pesticides were used in a manner inconsistent with label requirements.

EPA said Bayer has initiated changes that include the installation of permanent decontamination stations at the Sabana Grande farm and the construction of a portable shower unit that can be brought directly to employees working in the fields. The agency added that as a result of this case, the company has informed the EPA that it is starting a review of its standard operating procedures at all of its research facilities.

($1 = €0.73)

By Mark Milam