The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered a Milwaukee pesticide manufacturer to pay a $738,000 penalty for making unapproved claims about its Rozol Prairie Dog Bait and failing to label it as a “restrictive use” pesticide. This is the largest penalty ever imposed for violations of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Chief Administrative Law Judge Susan Biro ordered Liphatech Inc. to pay the civil penalty after finding it liable in March for more than 2,100 violations of FIFRA from 2007 to 2008.
According to the EPA, Liphatech advertised its highly toxic Rozol Prairie Dog Bait without identifying its “restricted use” classification and made false claims about the product that overstated its effectiveness and safety. Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a statement:
Restricted use pesticides can be dangerous to wildlife, public health and the environment. Today’s record penalty underscores the seriousness of these violations, and supports EPA’s commitment to ensure pesticides are handled safely, as required by law.
In 2010, the EPA filed an administrative action against Liphatech alleging it violated FIFRA by illegally distributing, selling and advertising the pesticides. The agency labeled the Rozol Prairie Dog Bait, which is used to control black-tailed prairie dogs in the states where they are present, as a restricted-use pesticide because of its potential to harm other animals, including endangered species and vulnerable wildlife. Rozol is approved for use by state pesticide applicators in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. The EPA and agricultural agencies in Colorado, Kansas, South Dakota and Wisconsin investigated the case.
In June 2011, a Washington federal judge ruled that the EPA violated the Endangered Species Act and FIFRA by failing to consult the Fish and Wildlife Service before registering Rozol in 2009. However, the judge did not block the chemical’s use. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Audubon of Kansas and Defenders of Wildlife brought the suit over concerns about the pesticide. The active ingredient of Rozol is chlorophacinone, which disrupts the body’s blood-clotting ability over an extended period of time and can cause affected animals to exhibit weakness, disorientation and other signs of illness, according to court documents.