The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement today with Syngenta Seeds LLC resolving violations of federal pesticide regulations at its farm in Kekaha, Kauai.
Under the settlement, Syngenta Seeds, a subsidiary of Syngenta AG of Switzerland, will pay a civil penalty of $150,000 and spend $400,000 on 11 worker-protection training sessions for growers in Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Syngenta must develop a curriculum and training materials tailored to local growers who face pesticide compliance challenges using appropriate language, literacy, geographic and cultural factors. Syngenta must also develop compliance kits for use at these trainings and for wider distribution in the agricultural community in English and four other languages commonly spoken by growers and farm workers in the training locations – Mandarin, Korean, Tagalog and Ilocano.
“Reducing pesticide exposure for the millions of farm workers who cultivate our food is a high priority for EPA,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest in a press release. “This settlement will bring to Hawaii and Pacific Island growers much-needed training to protect agricultural workers.”
Syngenta must also make the kits available to the public by posting the materials online for three years after the trainings are complete.
In matters referred to EPA by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the EPA found that in two separate incidents at Syngenta’s Kekaha farm in January 2016 and January 2017, the company failed to notify workers verbally and with signage to avoid fields recently treated with a restricted-use pesticide resulting in the exposure and hospitalization of workers.
In addition, EPA found Syngenta failed to provide both adequate decontamination supplies on-site and prompt transportation to a medical facility for workers exposed to the pesticide.
Restricted-use pesticides are not available for use by the general public because of high toxicity, the potential to injure applicators and bystanders and adverse effects to the environment.
More information on the EPA decision is available at this link.