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EPA to Seek Penalties from Mansfield, Mass. Pesticide Company

Release Date: 08/24/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617-918-1013)

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England office announced today that it intends to seek monetary penalties against the Rolf C. Hagen Corp. for selling unregistered and improperly labeled pesticides and pesticide devices.

The proposed penalty in this administrative complaint against the Mansfield, Mass.-based company is $209,000. This penalty is the largest proposed penalty in an EPA New England pesticide enforcement case.

Hagen Corp. sells and distributes pet care products and specialty chemicals for pond and aquarium maintenance from its United States headquarters on Hampden Road.

The penalty stems from an inspection last March by inspectors from the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture. They collected six samples of different aquarium and pond pest control products for algae control sold by Hagen.

These products are regulated as pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act – or FIFRA – because they claim to prevent or destroy pests, such as algae.

Under FIFRA, regulated pesticides must be registered with EPA before they are sold or distributed. EPA later determined that these Hagen pesticides were neither registered or properly labeled as FIFRA requires.

"FIFRA's goal is simple: protect human health and the environment. Until Hagen complies with FIFRA regulations, we have no way of knowing if what they are selling poses any risks," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

"This is an example of inter-agency cooperation at its best and I'm please our inspectors were able to assist EPA in protecting human health and the environment," said Jonathan L. Healy, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture, which oversees the state pesticide bureau.

In 1999, EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance sent an enforcement alert to all known pet care product producers and distributors in the U.S., including Hagen. This alert provided specific information about what EPA's considers a pesticide and what must be registered and how that registered product must be labeled. Examples were provided in this enforcement alert consistent with the claims being made by these products. Despite this outreach effort by EPA, these products were still not registered or labeled as required.

In 1993, Hagen received a letter of warning from EPA for offering pet care products for sale that claimed to be pesticides without proper federal registration or proper labeling. Although the products were flea shampoos for dogs and cats, the warning letter advised Hagen of their responsibility for properly registering and labeling all products it sold or distributed.

The penalty proposed in this FIFRA case is the largest ever in Region 1. EPA has determined that Hagen sold five of the six products sampled by the state on 36 occasions since January 2000, and the penalty for each of those violations is $5,500. Hagen sold or mislabeled the sixth product/device on three occasions since January 2000.

For more information on pesticides and the FIFRA program, go to EPA's Region I Web site.