The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with the E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) for alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). DuPont will pay a $1,853,000 penalty to resolve allegations that the company failed to submit reports to EPA about potential adverse effects of an herbicide product called Imprelis, and sold it with labeling that did not ensure its safe use. When customers applied the misbranded Imprelis product, it led to widespread death and damage to trees.
"EPA's ability to protect the public from dangerous pesticides depends on companies complying with the legal obligation to disclose information on the harmful effects of chemicals," said Cynthia Giles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This case sends the message that illegally withholding required information will be treated as a very serious violation."
As part of the registration process for a pesticide or herbicide, FIFRA requires companies to submit to EPA reports on a product’s potential adverse impacts on plants or animals that it is not intended to control. During the registration process and after registration was approved for Imprelis, an herbicide product intended to control weeds like dandelions, clover, thistle, plantains and ground ivy, DuPont failed to submit 18 reports.
As a result, Imprelis – as it was registered and labeled – did not adequately protect against damage to certain tree species. DuPont made 320 shipments of Imprelis to distributors in 2010 and 2011. This failure to submit reports and the sale or distribution of a misbranded pesticide or herbicide are violations of FIFRA.
DuPont has submitted over 7,000 reports to EPA of damage or death of trees – primarily Norway spruce and white pine – related to the application of Imprelis. Test data from DuPont confirmed certain coniferous trees, including Norway spruce and balsam fir, as susceptible to being damaged or killed by the application of Imprelis. There is also evidence that non-coniferous trees such as maple, honey locusts, lilacs, sycamores, and alders are susceptible to damage from Imprelis.
Starting in June 2011, EPA began receiving complaints from state pesticide agencies regarding damage to trees related to the use of Imprelis when it was applied to control weeds. Cases of tree damage and death from Imprelis were widespread in the Midwest, especially Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Indiana investigated more than 400 cases of tree damage related to Imprelis in 2011.
In August 2011, EPA ordered DuPont to stop selling and distributing Imprelis without prior approval from EPA. In September 2011, the registration for Imprelis was amended to prohibit the sale, distribution or marketing of Imprelis. The product registration for Imprelis expired on September 8th, 2014, and DuPont is no longer selling the product.
Imprelis was distributed and sold in 1 gallon, 2.5 gallon and 4.5 ounce containers, primarily to pest control professionals servicing the lawn, golf, turf and weed control sectors.
Imprelis was registered with EPA in 2010, and was marketed by DuPont for lawn and turf applications on residential and commercial lawns, golf courses, sod farms, schools, parks, and athletic fields.
The settlement, a consent agreement and final order, will be filed at EPA’s regional office in Philadelphia, and DuPont must submit payment of the penalty to the U.S. Department of Treasury within 30 days.