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News Releases from Region 02

Puerto Rico Pesticides Distributors Agree To Come into Compliance with Federal Law and Provide Training To Settle Case Involving Illegal Sale of Methyl Bromide Pesticides In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Contact Information: 
John Martin (martin.johnj@epa.gov)
(212) 637-3662

(New York, N.Y. – August 18, 2016) Under a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, two pesticide distributors, Superior-Angran LLC and Superior Angran Caribbean Inc. of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, will come into compliance with the Clean Air Act and federal pesticides law. The two companies will also pay a $210,000 fine and provide professional training for pesticide applicators. The agreement settles alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. From 2013 to 2015, Superior-Angran purchased, stored and sold two pesticides containing methyl bromide without complying with the Clean Air Act’s ozone-depleting substances reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Superior Angran Caribbean exported the same two pesticides containing methyl bromide without complying with the Clean Air Act’s ozone-depleting substances reporting requirements. This case is part of the EPA’s ongoing work to address the illegal use of toxic pesticides in the Caribbean.  

"This settlement holds pesticide distributors in Puerto Rico accountable for violating important federal environmental laws and helps to ensure that other companies fully understand the important restrictions on the sale and use of pesticides, particularly those containing methyl bromide," said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “Pesticides containing methyl bromide are very toxic and their use is restricted. Companies selling pesticides must follow all laws to help protect people from becoming seriously injured.”

The methyl bromide-containing pesticides purchased and distributed by these companies may only be applied for quarantine and preshipment purposes in structures used for the commercial storage or handling of commodities, such as those that can be found in ports and airports. These pesticides should never be used in homes. The health effects of exposure to methyl bromide are serious and range from headaches or dizziness, to central nervous system and respiratory system damage. The Clean Air Act requires distributors of methyl bromide that was produced for quarantine or preshipment applications to certify to the producer of those pesticides that they will be used only for quarantine or preshipment applications. Quarantine applications are treatments to prevent the introduction, establishment and/or spread of quarantine pests in the United States. Preshipment applications are treatments of commodities prior to export to meet the official requirements of the importing country. Under the Clean Air Act, before a distributor of these products sells the pesticide to a pesticide applicator, it must first receive certification from the applicator that the pesticide will be used only for quarantine or for preshipment applications. The distributor of methyl bromide produced for quarantine and preshipment applications must also file a report to the EPA within 45 days after the end of each quarter that includes the total quantities of methyl bromide either exported or delivered domestically for quarantine or for preshipment applications.

The EPA has been investigating the companies’ compliance with federal pesticides laws and the Clean Air Act in the Caribbean following a very serious pesticide poisoning incident in March, 2015, when a family vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands became gravely ill after being exposed to methyl bromide that used to fumigate a condo unit below their vacation rental.

From March to October of 2015, investigators from the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture and the EPA conducted inspections at Superior-Angran and Superior Angran Caribbean’s facility in Guaynabo and secured information from the companies regarding their handling and distribution of pesticides containing methyl bromide. The investigation revealed that Superior-Angran purchased two pesticides containing methyl bromide that are only allowed for use only in quarantine and preshipment applications, without certifying they would be used only for those purposes, and sold these two pesticides to applicators in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands without collecting the required certifications from these applicators. Puerto Rico applicators who purchased pesticides containing methyl bromide from Superior-Angran and then illegally applied them for non-quarantine and preshipment purposes would not have been able to legally purchase them if Superior-Angran had required the applicators to certify as per the Clean Air Act’s requirements. The company also failed to report to the EPA the quantities of methyl bromide it distributed to applicators in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Superior Angran Caribbean failed to report to EPA the quantities of methyl bromide it exported to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

In addition to paying a $210,000 penalty, Superior-Angran and Superior Angran Caribbean will pay for a professional training session for pesticide applicators in Puerto Rico and facilities such as hospitals and schools. The EPA provided input on the content of the training. Topics of the one-day training will include: legal requirements of fumigation; compliance with Clean Air Act recordkeeping and reporting requirements for applicators of methyl bromide-containing pesticides; and compliance with federal pesticide law application requirements for all applicators. The training session will also focus on Integrated Pest Management, which is an approach to prevent pests from becoming a problem by taking action to address the underlying causes that enable pests to thrive. These actions, such as repairing water leaks, adding weather stripping to windows, and installing door sweeps, reduce pesticide use and treatment costs.

For more information on the EPA's regulation of pesticides, visit: http://epa.gov/pesticides

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