Terminix International Company LP (TERMINIX LP) and U.S. Virgin Islands operation Terminix International USVI LLC (TERMINIX, USVI) have been sentenced for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced in a news release.
The Virgin Islands pest control company illegally applied fumigants containing methyl bromide in multiple residential locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including the condominium resort complex in St. John where a family of four fell seriously ill in March 2015 after the unit below them was fumigated.
According to the plea recommendation, TERMINIX LP and TERMINIX, USVI are to pay a total of $9.2 million in criminal fines, community service, and restitution payments. Under the agreed recommendation, TERMINIX, USVI will pay $4 million in fines and $1 million in restitution to the EPA for response and clean-up costs at the St. John resort. TERMINIX LP will pay a fine of $4 million and will perform community service related to training commercial pesticide applicators in fumigation practices and a separate health services training program.
EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt said, “This case should serve as a stark reminder that pesticides must be applied as intended and that those who ignore laws that protect public health will be held accountable by EPA and our law enforcement partners.”
In 1984, the EPA banned the indoor use of methyl bromide products. The few remaining uses are severely restricted and largely limited to commodity applications for quarantine and pre-shipment purposes. Pesticides containing methyl bromide in the U.S. are restricted-use due to their acute toxicity, meaning that they may only be applied by a certified applicator.
Health effects of acute exposure to methyl bromide are serious and include central nervous system and respiratory system damage. Pesticides can be very toxic and it is critically important that they are used only as approved by EPA.