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EPA Settles Administrative Pesticide Case Against Massachusetts Company; Penalty is Largest Ever in New England
Release Date: 03/26/2002
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013 Diane Baedeker Petit, Mass. Dept. of Food and Agriculture (617) 626-1752
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has settled an administrative complaint against the Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. for importing, distributing and selling unregistered and improperly labeled pesticides and pesticidal devices.
Under the terms of the settlement, the company has agreed to pay a $204,600 penalty. The penalty for the Mansfield, Mass.-based company is the largest in an EPA New England pesticide enforcement case.
"EPA's goal in regulating pesticides is simple: protect human health and the environment," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "When companies don't follow the guidelines, it deprives EPA – and therefore the public as a whole – with the knowledge of what is in these products."
Hagen Corp. sells and distributes pet care products, specialty chemicals, and sterilizing devices for pond and aquarium maintenance from its headquarters on Hampden Road.
The penalty stems from an inspection in March 2001 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. EPA determined that Hagen sold five of the six products sampled by the state on 36 occasions since January 2000. The sixth product, a mislabeled pesticide device, had been improperly sold or distributed three times during the same period.
In addition, on two separate occasions Hagen imported misbranded ultra violet (UV) sterilizer/clarifier devices from Italy and distributed them into the United States in violation of federal pesticide standards. These devices are designed to control, among other things, algae in fish ponds. The devices were misbranded because their packaging did not contain the EPA Establishment Number of the facility in which they were produced.
Finally, Hagen was charged with one count of producing a pesticidal device in an establishment which was not registered.
These pesticide products and pond sterilizer/clarifier devices are regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act – or FIFRA – because they claim to prevent, repel, trap, or destroy pests, such as algae.
"This company ignored a process which is critical to ensuring the safety of their products," explained Brad Mitchell, Director of Regulatory Services for the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture. "The process of registering a pesticide is based on an assessment of the risks it poses to human health and the environment. Based on this assessment, use directions and other requirements are put in place to ensure the product is used safely."
Under FIFRA, regulated pesticides must be registered with EPA before they are sold or distributed. EPA subsequently determined that these pesticides were neither registered nor properly labeled as FIFRA requires. FIFRA also requires that all pesticides and pesticidal devices be produced in an EPA registered establishment before they can be packaged, labeled, re-packaged or re-labeled. EPA determined that the pesticidal devices were re-labeled in an establishment which was not registered as required.
Hagen did not register the products under FIFRA, and therefore did not provide required information on any potential adverse effects that could harm human health or the environment.
In April, 1999, EPA's office of Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance sent an enforcement alert to all known pet care product producers and distributors in the U.S., including Hagen. This alert gave specific information about what EPA's considers a pesticide, 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, EPA determined that Hagen had not complied with FIFRA's registration or labeling standards.
For more information on pesticides and the FIFRA program, go to EPA's Region I Web site: