DuPont and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have agreed to a $1.853 million settlement. The settlement originates from a lawsuit which alleged that DuPont’s herbicide product ImprelisTM was responsible for killing and damaging thousands of acres of spruce and pine trees in 2011.
Aminocyclopyrachlor (Imprelis) is in the chemical class of the pyrimidine carboxylic acids, which is similar to pyridine carboxylic acid herbicides that includes herbicide such as aminopyralid, clopyralid, and picloram. These chemicals have been linked to repeated incidents where treated plant residues contaminate non-target plants. They persist in the environment, do not break down during composting, and have affected flowers and vegetables, such as beans, peas and tomatoes. Some states as well as the United Kingdom were prompted to take regulatory action due to these incidents.
The EPA had accused DuPont of violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for selling and distributing its pesticide product and specified that Dupont had distributed or sold Imprelis on 320 occasions from October 2010 through June 2011, with labeling that did not include directions for use and/or warning or caution statements adequate to protect non-target terrestrial plants, thus resulting in a pesticide product that was “misbranded” under sections 2(q)(1)(F) and/or (G) of FIFRA. Additionally, the EPA alleged that DuPont failed to timely submit 18 field trial study reports to EPA indicating potential adverse effects from the use of Imprelis as required by FIFRA section 6(a)(2) and 40 CFR part 159, subpart D.
“EPA’s ability to protect the public from dangerous pesticides depends on companies complying with the legal obligation to disclose information on the harmful effects of chemicals,” said Cynthia Giles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This case sends the message that illegally withholding required information will be treated as a very serious violation.”
In 2011, Norway spruce and white pine tree damage and deaths, were reported throughout the Midwest, in East Coast states, and as far south as Georgia. Imprelis was associated with these deaths and linked to the pesticide application during spring to control weeds on lawns and other landscapes in the vicinity of the non-target evergreen trees. Over 7,000 adverse incident reports were submitted involving Imprelis-induced damage (including death) to spruce and pine trees
Upon receiving consumer complaints, DuPont issued a letter on June 17, 2011 to pest management professionals cautioning against the use of Imprelis where Norway spruce or white pine trees are present or close to a treated area. The EPA contacted DuPont specifying the following:, “EPA believes that the public interest demands that this information be made publicly available as soon as possible and, therefore, EPA strongly encourages DuPont to reconsider its CBI claims for these studies, especially for the phytotoxicity studies related to effects on trees.”
After receiving EPA notification, DuPont suspended sales of Imprelis and announced that it will conduct a product return and refund program. The consent settlement is posted on the EPA website: http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-09/documents/dupontimprelis-cafo.pdf