State Holds Major California Pesticide Applicator Responsible for Numerous Violations that Endangered Workers and the Public
Secretary for Environmental Protection
Leia Bailey, Communications Director
(916) 445-3974 | Leia.Bailey@cdpr.ca.gov
SACRAMENTO – Today, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced it reached a settlement with a major agricultural pesticide application business regarding numerous violations of state law that endangered workers and the public.
In November 2022, DPR initiated a licensing disciplinary action against TriCal Inc., one of the state’s largest agricultural pesticide applicators and the largest single applicator of 1,3-D. The pesticide 1,3-D has been linked to potential acute and cancer health effects at certain levels of exposure.
DPR’s licensing action cites 9 incidents and 61 pesticide use violations in Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties involving both 1,3-D and/or chloropicrin.
The settlement reached today will require a two-year probation of TriCal’s license. The probation requirements include:
- Providing seven-day advance public notification to neighbors within difficult-to-evacuate sites and sensitive sites of planned pesticide applications, such as school facilities, nursing homes, or occupied residences or businesses.
- Using special impermeable ground-covering tarps for certain types of applications.
- Enhanced post-application monitoring for all fumigations near difficult-to-evacuate sites, sensitive sites and bystander areas. Bystander areas include wildlife habitat, sidewalks and parking lots.
- Creating and hiring three new compliance coordinator positions and adding additional trained staff to increase monitoring during applications.
TriCal must also develop a "stewardship program" to improve the education and resources provided to pesticide applicators.
"Licensed pesticide applicators must adhere to the state’s strict requirements governing the safe use of pesticides," said Julie Henderson, DPR Director. "Compliance with the state’s pesticide use laws and regulations is essential to protecting the health of workers, communities, and the environment, and to the sustainability of healthy food production in California."
DPR’s settlement with TriCal follows a series of enforcement actions taken by local, state, and federal agencies. Enforcement actions from county agricultural commissioners in 12 counties assessed more than $125,000 in administrative civil penalties against TriCal between 2014 and 2020. In 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assessed a $44,275 fine for federal pesticide violations occurring in Fresno County. Most recently, TriCal paid $400,000 in penalties as part of a judgment in a Monterey County civil action for a series of pesticide incidents in that county. Unlike the previous enforcement actions which sought monetary penalties, DPR’s action imposes probationary requirements. As the state agency responsible for administering the professional pesticide applicator licensing program, DPR has authority to take licensing action based on violations of pesticide use requirements.
The majority of the "priority episodes" DPR cited in the licensing disciplinary action occurred in Monterey County. Priority episodes are defined as violations that result in serious illness or injury, or that affect more than five people or result in significant property damage or crop loss. In an October 2019 priority episode cited in the action, 39 fieldworkers in Monterey County were exposed to 1,3-D and chloropicrin due to TriCal’s misapplication of the pesticides. Thirty-two fieldworkers experienced symptoms of pesticide exposure and three sought medical care for their symptoms.
Investigations of these violations were conducted by county agricultural commissioners.
"The additional probationary requirements will increase transparency about the use of these products to neighboring communities and agricultural businesses while also creating uniform use conditions across California to continue to ensure the safe and effective use of these pesticides" said Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner Juan Hidalgo. "California has the most robust pesticide regulatory program in our nation, and today’s actions demonstrate the commitment at the state and local level to protect our agricultural workers and communities."
Failure to comply with the terms of the settlement could result in license suspension. The full terms of the settlement can be found here.
ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF PESTICIDE REGULATION
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation protects human health and the environment by fostering sustainable pest management and carrying out a robust regulatory program.
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.