Ag issues fines over pesticide violations

OLYMPIA -- A Benton County road maintenance worker and a Yakima firm were among individuals and businesses fined by the Washington Department of Agriculture for violating state pesticide rules, the department said Monday.

In all, the department announced license suspensions and fines totaling $5,200 during the first quarter of 2010.

The largest fine, $1,800, was levied against Yakima Valley Orchards LLC for failing to provide all the needed decontamination supplies and for allowing workers into a recently sprayed orchard north of Grandview in July 2009 before the workers were allowed to return, the department said.

Those fined were:

-- Charles Minter, a road maintenance worker for Benton County Public Works, and the county were fined $450 total and Minter's public operator license was suspended for seven days after roadside herbicide applications he made in 2008 and 2009 damaged the outside rows of grape vines growing adjacent to county roads, the agriculture department said.

The fine was paid and the license suspension served, the department said.

-- Terry Haaland of CHS Inc., Othello, was fined $450 and his commercial operator license suspended for seven days after he applied an herbicide mix in July 2009 to a bean field south of Othello that drifted onto a neighboring property and made a woman ill, the department said.

-- Vigneron Management LLC, Grandview, was fined $700 for failing to provide all necessary decontamination supplies and not adequately supervising the care of personal protective equipment in May 2009, the department said.

-- A Wenatchee man, Daniel Farmer, was fined $900 and his commercial and operator licenses suspended for 14 days after a pesticide application he made by helicopter in September 2008 drifted onto a neighboring property and caused someone to become ill, according to the department. He also mistakenly sprayed a certified organic apple orchard near Orondo, causing it to lose its organic certification for three years, the department said.