Written by The Business Journal Staff
J.R. Simplot Co. and Gar Tootelian, Inc. have reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over allegations of improper storage and labeling of agricultural pesticides that will have the firms paying a combined $131,920 in civil penalties.
J.R. Simplot is one of the largest privately held agribusinesses in the U.S., and five of its facilities in Central California were subject to EPA enforcement actions, including operations in Terra Bella and Traver in Tulare County and Five Points in Fresno County.
Based in Reedley, Gar Tootelian is a longtime distributor of chemicals and fertilizers in the Valley. The EPA said the enforcement actions applied to the Reedley facility, which recently underwent a $10 million expansion.
J.R. Simplot agreed to pay $98,960 while Gar Tootelian will pay $32,960.
According to the EPA, some of the violations in common between the two companies included failing to anchor or elevate bulk pesticide storage tanks, having labels with missing net contents on storage tanks and failing to meet standards for the use of refillable containers.
In a statement, Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian president, said the deficiencies for his firm were minor.
“The corrections needed took literally minutes to fix and the public and the environment were never in any kind of jeopardy,” he said.
“What I feel terrible about is the $32,000 fine Gar paid the EPA came out of funds slated to go to our local food bank and Habitat for Humanity,” he added. “I am devastated I could not convince the EPA to let us make those donations our priority over them.”