The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said that a federal judge has fined 99 Cents Only Stores Inc. a record $400,000 in penalties for selling cleaning and pest control products that contained illegal pesticides.
The EPA administrative law judge cited 166 violations involving products containing pesticides that were unregistered with the federal agency and also misbranded. The EPA said the fine is the largest contested penalty ever ordered by an EPA administrative law judge against a retailer for violations of federal pesticide regulations.
The city of Commerce discount retailer has not released a reaction or announced whether it will appeal the ruling. A message left with the company for comment was not immediately returned.
The three products cited include a household cleaner called “Bref Limpieza y Disinfección Total con Densicloro,” which was imported from Mexico. The other two products were “Farmer's Secret Berry & Produce Cleaner,” an unregistered pesticide, and “PiC Boric Acid Roach Killer III,” which the agency said was misbranded because labels were upside-down or inside out, making them hard to read.
“All pesticide distributors — discounters and high-end retailers alike — must comply with the law,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, in a statement. “This company’s disregard for state and federal law in its business practices has led to a penalty that reflects the seriousness of the violations.”
The violations were discovered during multiple inspections by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Nevada Department of Agriculture between 2004 and 2008. The EPA did not say whether the products were still being sold in the stores.
Shares were down 8 cents, or less than a percent, to $17.18 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
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