California Cracks Down on Pesticide Applicator for Multiple Violations
TriCal violations involve two hazardous pesticides - 1,3-D and chloropicrin
Secretary for Environmental Protection
Leia Bailey, Communications Director
(916) 445-3974 | Leia.Bailey@cdpr.ca.gov
SACRAMENTO – Citing numerous violations that resulted in serious illness and injury and dozens of other violations, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation is initiating a licensing action against TriCal, a company that provides agricultural pesticide-application services to farms throughout Central and Northern California.
Hollister-based TriCal is one of the largest businesses in California to perform field fumigations, primarily using 1,3-D and chloropicrin. Fumigation involves injecting gaseous fumigant pesticides into soil to kill destructive organisms before planting. The application of these pesticides is subject to a comprehensive set of use restrictions designed to protect public health. Misuse of 1,3-D and chloropicrin can result in short-term exposures that cause acute health effects, as well as long-term exposure that can cause cancer. Both chemicals are restricted materials that require special licensing and restrictions on use to ensure that human health and the environment are protected from potential adverse impacts.
The department’s licensing action is based on investigations and enforcement actions undertaken by several County Agricultural Commissioners, District Attorneys and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9.
TriCal’s San Benito headquarters, and Santa Maria and Ventura branches have significant violation histories dating back to 2014. These past violations include a combined 40 incidents – 4 of which were "priority episodes" in Butte, Fresno and Santa Cruz counties. Priority episodes are incidents involving serious illness or injury, or an episode involving five or more people. TriCal has paid over $125,000 in administrative civil penalties to County Agricultural Commissioners and a $44,275 fine to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"This is an unacceptable pattern of egregious and dangerous actions that place workers and the public in danger," said Ken Everett, DPR Assistant Director. "We take our mission and role in protecting human health and the environment very seriously and hold pesticide applicators to a high standard for compliance. There is no excuse for not taking the legally required steps necessary to protect workers, communities and our environment."
The department’s licensing action cites nine recent episodes, including the following:
- In October 2020, 20 residential bystanders and three members of the Salinas Fire Department experienced symptoms of pesticide exposure from a Tri-Cal misapplication.
- In October 2019, 39 fieldworkers in Monterey County were exposed to 1,3-D and chloropicrin due to TriCal’s misapplication. 32 fieldworkers experienced symptoms of pesticide exposure and three people sought medical care for their symptoms.
- In October 2018 in Monterey County, TriCal misapplied a product containing 1,3-D and chloropicrin and, as a result, 13 residential bystanders experienced symptoms of pesticide exposure.
DPR and County Agricultural Commissioners work in coordination with U.S. EPA to enforce pesticide laws and regulations across the state’s 58 counties. DPR is responsible for licensing businesses that apply pesticides. DPR has authority to impose disciplinary requirements on licensed businesses that violate pesticide laws. These requirements are intended to facilitate compliance and deter future violations.
This licensing action comes as DPR announces proposed regulatory requirements to strengthen use restrictions on 1,3-D to protect public health. More information on the proposed regulation is available on DPR’s website.
ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF PESTICIDE REGULATION
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation protects human health and the environment by fostering safer and sustainable pest management practices and operating a robust regulatory system to evaluate and register pesticides and monitor and regulate their sale and use across the state.
DPR’s work includes conducting scientific evaluations of pesticides to assess and mitigate potential harm to human health or the environment prior to and following registration, registering all pesticides prior to sale or use in California, monitoring for pesticides in the air and water, and enforcing pesticide laws and regulations in coordination with 55 County Agricultural Commissioners and their combined 500 field inspectors across the state’s 58 counties. DPR invests in innovative research, outreach, and education to encourage the development and adoption of integrated pest management tools and practices and conducts outreach to ensure pesticide workers, farmworkers and local communities have access to pesticide safety information. More information about DPR.