EPA Settles Syngenta Case for Far Less

The company will pay a $150,000 civil penalty and spend $400,000 on worker protection training sessions. EPA earlier had assessed $4.8 million in fines.

EPA assessed $4.8 million in fines in December 2016 against a unit of the Swiss chemical company Syngenta  for violating pesticide regulations at a crop research farm in Hawaii, but EPA announced Feb. 12, 2018, that it has agreed to a settlement of the case for far less: Syngenta Seeds, LLC, will spend $400,000 on 11 worker protection training sessions for growers in Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands and will pay a civil penalty of $150,000 in the settlement of federal pesticide violations at its farm in Kekaha, Kauai.

The violations occurred when workers entered a field that had recently been sprayed with a restricted insecticide; EPA said 10 workers were taken to a hospital for treatment, and that the company failed to tell the workers to avoid the fields and then allowed them to enter the fields without protective gear, as well as failing to provide adequate decontamination supplies at the farm and supply prompt transportation for emergency medical care.

Syngenta said in December 2016 that it takes responsibility for the incident and no workers were hurt.

EPA's February 2018 announcement of the settlement says Syngenta also will develop compliance kits for use at the training sessions and for wider distribution in the agricultural community, kits that are in English and four other languages commonly spoken by growers and farmworkers in the training locations (Mandarin, Korean, Tagalog, and Ilocano). Syngenta will make the kits available to the public by posting the materials online for three years after the training is complete.

"Reducing pesticide exposure for the millions of farmworkers who cultivate our food is a high priority for EPA," said Alexis Strauss, EPA's acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "This settlement will bring to Hawaii and Pacific Island growers much-needed training to protect agricultural workers."

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