The Target Corporation agreed to a civil penalty of $43,850 after a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation investigation revealed the company was selling pesticides banned on Long Island at stores across Long Island, including its South Setauket location.
According to a release from the DEC, Target was ordered to remove the banned pesticides from all stores throughout the region in addition to the penalty.
“Long Island’s sole source aquifer is especially vulnerable to contamination, and DEC Pesticide Control Specialists take their responsibility to enforce environmental laws very seriously," DEC Region 1 Director Peter A. Scully said. “This investigation is just one example of the important work that DEC staff perform every day to help protect Long Island’s environment.”
A DEC spokeswoman confirmed that the pesticides were sold in South Setauket, as well as "basically every other store in Suffolk County." However volume amounts at each location were not immediately available.
In September 2011, DEC’s Region 1 Bureau of Pest Management received a telephone inquiry from a concerned resident who had been shopping at a local Target Brands retail store. While reading a pesticide label for a rose and flower care product, the resident noticed the following label statement: “Not for sale, sale into, distribution and or use in Nassau, Suffolk, Kings and Queens counties of New York.”
The call sparked an investigation by DEC’s Pesticide Control Specialists, who, following an inspection, discovered several units of two banned pesticides at the Target store in Levittown. Aphrodite Montalvo, a spokeswoman for the DEC, said the Levittown store supplied other stores in the region with the pesticides.
The pesticides included Bayer Advanced 2-in-1 Systemic Rose and Flower Care and Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer. These pesticides have been banned on Long Island, including Kings and Queens counties, to protect the underground aquifer that supplies the region’s drinking water, according to the DEC.
The unregistered pesticides were quarantined and, with cooperation from the Target Corporation, DEC ordered the removal of all unregistered pesticides from Target stores throughout the region.
Documents obtained by DEC revealed that while the products were on the shelves, 1,754 units of the unregistered pesticides were sold.
Target released a statement to Patch Tuesday afternoon regarding the pesticide incident:
Target is committed to following all local, state and federal regulations and we regret the oversight.
As soon as this was brought to our attention, Target removed the pesticide from stores where the item is prohibited. We are committed to working closely with our vendors and partners to ensure we’re offering products that are permitted and approved for the communities we operate in.
The Target Corporation was found to be in violation of Environmental Conservation Law which requires the registration every two years of any pesticide which is used, distributed, sold or offered for sale within this state or delivered for transportation or transported in intrastate commerce or between points within this state through any point outside the state.
The Target Corporation signed an Order on Consent on Sept. 12 and paid a fine of $43,850.
Any individual who has purchased either of the aforementioned pesticides can contact his or her town hall to determine where to safely dispose of the chemicals. For questions regarding refunds, please contact your local Target store for more information.
Although the pesticides sold are considered safe for handling when label instructions are properly followed, these products, along with nearly 400 other pesticides registered in New York, have been banned from use on Long Island to help protect the groundwater aquifer that supplies the region’s drinking water.
When purchasing any pesticide, read the label carefully to ensure the chemical is appropriate for your region and applied properly. A list of currently registered pesticides in New York state can be found on the DEC’s website.
Anyone concerned about the sale, use or distribution of pesticides can call DEC Bureau of Pesticides at (631) 444-0340.