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EPA Cites Redmond Co. for 304 Violations of Federal Pesticide Laws

Release Date: 5/6/2004
Contact Information: Chad Schulze
(206) 553-0505

May 6, 2004

Criminal convictions in `88 didn’t stop Argent Chemical Laboratories’ illegal activities

In one of the biggest federal pesticide cases ever filed in the Northwest, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a 304-count complaint against Redmond-based Argent Chemical Laboratories alleging the company illegally produced, sold, imported, and exported a variety of potentially dangerous pesticides. Each count carries a penalty of up to $5,500.

The complaint (available upon request) alleges that Argent and Eliot Lieberman and Beatriz Shanahan, the owners of the company, violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) which requires all manufacturers, wholesalers, importers, and exporters of pesticides to register their products and their pesticide producing establishments with the federal government, provide basic health and safety information to their customers, and to sell “restricted-use” pesticide products only to licensed pesticide applicators.

The EPA investigation uncovered 304 violations of these requirements and others that occurred between May 1999 and January 2003.

Among the violations committed by Argent are:
  • sale of unregistered pesticides, including those containing Rotenone, a potent chemical often used to kill all aquatic life in bodies of water. (Rotenone, when used as a fish toxicant, is a restricted use pesticide due to aquatic toxicity, and may only be sold to certified applicators. It can be fatal if swallowed or inhaled);
  • sale of pesticides without required safety labeling;
  • sale of a “restricted-use” pesticide to, and for use by, un-licensed applicators;
  • illegal repackaging and sale of another manufacturer’s products;
  • producing pesticides in an establishment not unregistered with the EPA; and
  • failing to file reports required by FIFRA
In 1988, Argent pled guilty to submitting false statements to the Food and Drug Administration and the EPA. Argent, Lieberman, and Shanahan also pled guilty to knowingly selling unregistered pesticides in violation of FIFRA.

In 1993, a routine inspection at Argent’s Redmond, Washington, facility revealed violations of FIFRA similar to those found in 1988. The inspection also found that Argent was further violating FIFRA by failing to maintain pesticide production records, illegally exporting pesticides, and misusing EPA-registered pesticides. As a result, Argent paid a civil penalty of $50,000.

In a letter dated April 24, 1998, Argent requested that EPA Region 10 deactivate Argent as a pesticide producing establishment. The letter states, “Please be notified that Argent no longer manufactures EPA registered pesticides anymore. If there is any expired Argent registered pesticide product in your data base, please deactivate it and do not send this kind of report to us in the future.”

Subsequent inspections conducted at the Redmond facility revealed that the company was continuing to produce, distribute or sell pesticides.

“The repeated sale of these types of pesticides to uncertified applicator, the sale of unlabeled and unregistered products – even after prior criminal and civil penalties – are egregious violations,” said Mike Bussell, Acting Director of the EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle.

“Restricted-use pesticides can pose hazards to applicators, the environment, and human health. These violations suggest that the owners care so little about their customers that they are willing to repeatedly break the laws meant to promote the safe use of potentially dangerous products.”


Bill Dunbar