EPA Error Cost It $25 Million, Company Says

     WASHINGTON (CN) — A pesticide maker sued the United States for $25 million on Tuesday, claiming that the Environmental Protection Agency “mistakenly” ordered it to stop selling a chemical, and it lost that much money during the 15 months it took to correct the mistake.
     American Vanguard Corp., the California-based parent of AMVAC Chemical Corp., sued the United States in the Court of Federal Claims.
     American Vanguard says it “has manufactured, distributed and sold a variety of chemical products for over 50 years, including ones serving as effective pesticides to protect against, among other dangers, Zika and West Nile virus.”
     The “taken property,” Technical Grade PCNB, is a registered pesticide worth “millions of dollars,” American Vanguard says.
     It claims that the EPA “mistakenly issued a stop sale order” to it on Aug. 12, 2010, without notice.
     “EPA did not claim there was any safety, health or environmental risk with the PCNB product; nor was there. American challenged EPA’s order, and it was set aside” on Nov. 23, 2011, the company says. During those 15 months, though, American says, it lost $25 million in sales, and it says it suffers continuing harm because of the loss of reputation.
     “American permanently lost some of its customers,” the company says. To top it off, the stop-sale notice was still posted on the EPA website as recently as a week ago.
     The link to the EPA notice was still active Thursday morning.
     The active ingredient, pentachloronitrobenzene, has been registered with the EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act since 1985 and is used in more than 30 products that prevent the growth of fungi on turf and vegetables, the complaint states.
     “American’s PCNB products and the related [confidential statements of formula] have been approved by EPA multiple times over the last three decades,” according to the complaint.
     American says it alerted the EPA about an impurity detected in the products in 1993, but that “at no time prior to its issuance of the order did EPA determine that impurity X was toxicologically significant,” as the amount present was only 0.0000005 percent (5 parts per billion).
     The Department of Justice did not reply to a request for comment Wednesday.
     American Vanguard’s lead attorney is Barry Hartman, with K&L Gates.

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