Compliance Program HighlightsThe Investigation and Compliance Section performs investigations related to the feed, fertilizer and pesticide programs. These cases could involve product distribution, storage, use, disposal or environmental contamination.
The Compliance Section has 14 Environmental Enforcement Specialists (EES), an Investigation Program Manager, a Supervisor and a Section Chief, who conduct and oversee inspections and investigations for the ACM Bureau. In 2011 there were a number of staff changes within the compliance section including four retirements (Supervisor, Section Chief and two EESs) and five new hires (EES positions).
In 2011, the section conducted a total of 127 investigations. The 127 investigations include the following types of cases: 108 pesticide (ATCP 29), seven feed, five remediation, three containment, two license enforcement, one groundwater and one toxic response. Of the 127 investigations, 118 were considered enforcement cases that involved alleged violations, and of these, 89 (75%) had documented violations as summarized in Chart 1.
Violations may result in actions ranging from verbal warnings to court action invoking civil or criminal penalties depending on the statutory authorities in the program area. All civil or criminal cases conducted by the section are prosecuted by the district attorney in the county where the violation occurred. A majority of the formal enforcement actions are conducted by the section through stipulated settlements, with court documents being prepared by the section. Table 1 shows the number and type of enforcement actions taken during 2011. At the end of 2011, there were seven cases with civil forfeiture actions pending in the court system.
The department assigns the highest response priority to complaints involving human exposure to pesticides. In 2011, staff investigated six cases involving potential human exposure to pesticides and determined pesticide exposure (from pesticide drift) occurred in one of those cases.
The section investigated 57 complaints of pesticide drift in 2011 and documented drift violations in 35 cases and 22 were found to have no detectable drift.
Four Examples of Compliance Actions
A Wisconsin commercial landscape company paid a $5,000 civil forfeiture plus court costs and entered into an administrative order with the department for violations related to the use and storage of pesticides at multiple locations operated by the firm. DATCP documented that the firm had incomplete commercial pesticide application records, failed to make application records available to DATCP for inspection, failed to store a pesticide in a manner that was compliant with its labeling, inappropriately re-used a pesticide container and distributed a pesticide product that was adulterated due to the lack of complete labeling on the container.
Three individuals certified as private pesticide applicators paid civil forfeitures for making applications of atrazine to fields that were located in Atrazine Prohibition Areas. Based on the case evidence, one individual paid a forfeiture of $1,500 plus court costs, while the two other individuals each paid a forfeiture of $500 plus court costs.
A Wisconsin commercial structural pesticide application company paid a civil forfeiture of $5,000 plus court costs for violations pertaining to the commercial application of pesticides. DATCP determined that the company directed individuals who were not individually certified or licensed as commercial pesticide applicators to make commercial pesticide applications. They also did not maintain the required application records and failed to provide the required post-application information to customers.
DATCP conducted multiple landscape investigations that involved the pesticide product Imprelis which was introduced into the market place in 2011. These investigations concluded that although the commercial applications appeared to be made in a complaint manner, environmental impacts still occurred. DATCP along with many other states worked cooperatively with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to document the products used and report investigational findings. The outcome was that the EPA notified the pesticide manufacturer that the product was determined to be misbranded and subsequently the manufacturer voluntarily removed the product from the market place. This federal case is ongoing with further actions pending.
Direction for the Coming Year
With the new section staff hired in 2011 and additional vacancies projected to be filled in 2012, recruiting new staff, training and providing the necessary tools (such as updated policy and procedures) for new hires will be priorities for 2012.
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