DEQ Fines Canby Grass Seed Producer $22,500 for Hazardous Waste Violations

Pure Seed, a global leader in grass seed research, production, marketing and services, has been fined $22,500 by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for violations related to labeling, handling and disposal of hazardous waste at its seed processing facility on Barlow Road in Canby.

“DEQ issued this penalty because improper management and disposal of hazardous waste threatens human health and the environment,” a DEQ compliance officer wrote to the company in a Feb. 24 letter of the violation, which the state announced Tuesday along with 27 other statewide violations from February and March.

DEQ claimed that Pure Seed’s failure to follow its rules for the identification, storage, handling, treatment and disposal of pesticides and other chemicals “increased the risk that human health and the environment could be harmed by mismanagement of hazardous wastes.”

The environmental quality agency cited Pure Seed for offering seed waste to customers without disclosing that it contained fungicides or other potentially hazardous components.

In 2018, the company’s Canby facility was generating almost 10,000 pounds a week of a green dye, lime and fungicide waste mixture, which DEQ claims was applied to seed and offered to area farmers for free or at a nominal cost, advertised as a “lime and seed mixture.”

According to DEQ, the primary fungicide the company used was Apron XL, which is labeled as harmful to humans and domestic animals if swallowed and is required to be disposed of onsite or at an approved waste facility. Open dumping of the material is prohibited.

However, Pure Seed offered area farmers thousands of pounds of a seed waste mixture containing this product without labeling it as “hazardous waste,” “waste pesticide,” or even “fungicide,” DEQ claims. Instead, the totes were labeled simply, “limestone + seed.”

In 2018, DEQ says Pure Seed provided 60 cubic yards of the seed treatment to a cattle farm in Estacada, which it stored in a “large pile.” The Oregon Department of Agriculture visited the site in October 2018 to collect samples and reported seeing cattle grazing “on and near the seed treatment waste pile.”

The samples were analyzed at the ODA lab, where it was determined they contained mefenoxam — an active ingredient in Apron XL.

DEQ claimed other violations that allegedly happened inside the Canby facility. Pure Seed stored its waste seed mixture in containers known as “super sacks,” which contain up to a cubic yard of material. The containers were open and not properly labeled, according to DEQ.

Some of this material was “spilled and accumulated … both indoors on the floor and on top of equipment, and outdoors on the paved and unpaved ground and adjacent to the super sacks and the building’s ventilation fan,” DEQ alleges.

The company also stored used oil in improperly labeled containers, according to the agency. These violations were later corrected, and Pure Seed provided photographs to DEQ showing the containers had been properly labeled and the waste seed had been cleaned up.

In its Feb. 24 letter, DEQ noted the company’s efforts to “promptly and properly” address these violations as well as the ones at the Estacada farm, and other improvements to Pure Seed’s waste management practices. The state said this was taken into account when considering the amount of the company’s civil penalty.

In addition to the $22,500 fine, DEQ is ordering Pure Seed to contact all known recipients of its waste seed mixture and disclose to them that it contained one or more fungicides. They must also provide a copy of the notice of violation from DEQ.

Pure Seed had the right to appeal the matter within 20 days of receiving the violation.

Formerly known as Rose Agri-Seed, Pure Seed is a global company with 50 years of experience researching, developing, producing and marketing proprietary turf and forage grasses with a wide variety of commercial applications, including golf courses and sports arenas.

DEQ also cited a geotechnical engineering firm, GeoDesign Inc., for failing to obtain the proper license before conducting soil samples in the vicinity of a 675-gallon heating oil tank on Walnut Street in Canby.

“Based on your experience as an environmental consultant, you should have been aware of the need for a license prior to collecting those samples,” DEQ told the firm, which is based in Salem.

GeoDesign was fined $3,600 and also had the right to appeal.

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