By Carey Gillam
(Reuters) - DuPont will pay a $1.85 million penalty to resolve allegations that the global chemical company did not properly disclose the risks of using one of its herbicides, leading to widespread damage to tree species through several U.S. states.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered DuPont to stop selling the herbicide, Imprelis, in August 2011 after the agency received more than 7,000 reports of tree damage or death tied to its use. Damage to trees, primarily Norway spruce and white pine, was reported throughout Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and several other Midwest states.
DuPont, whose formal name is E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co, made about 320 shipments of Imprelis in 2010 and 2011 before the EPA ordered it to stop.
The company marketed the herbicide for lawn and turf applications on residential and commercial lawns, golf courses, sod farms, schools, parks, and athletic fields. It was designed to control weeds such as dandelions, clover, thistle, plantains and ground ivy.
The EPA found DuPont failed to submit reports on the potential adverse effects of Imprelis, and sold it with labeling that did not ensure its safe use.
"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," Cynthia Giles, EPA assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance, said in a statement on Monday. “This case sends the message that illegally withholding required information will be treated as a very serious violation."DuPont said it was not admitting any liability in agreeing to pay the penalty.
"Responsible product stewardship is one of DuPont's core values and we are pleased to have this matter behind us," the company said in a statement.
Last month DuPont agreed to pay a fine of $1.275 million and spend an estimated $2.3 million more to settle claims by U.S. officials that it failed to prevent toxic releases of hazardous substances in West Virginia.
(Reporting By Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Peter Galloway)