A Ventura County farmworker and two environmental justice groups are suing the California Department of Pesticide Regulation over how it issued new rules on the use of the fumigant 1,3-dichloropropene, sold as Telone. The fumigant is widely used on crops such as strawberries.
The suit claims that the Department failed to follow recommendations of scientists at the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Attorneys for the groups say it's a requirement under state law. The pesticide is listed as a carcinogen in California.
"These regulations were passed without going through the rulemaking process," says Natalia Ospina with California Rural Legal Assistance, who represents Ventura County farmworker Juana Vasquez. "There was no public notice. There was no opening up for comments, there was no response to public comments, which we believe is contrary to what they're required to do."
In a statement, the Department of Pesticide Regulation said the lawsuit is "without merit" and that it will prevail in court. It also said the new rules allow growers to tackle agricultural pests while remaining protective of public health.
Californians for Pesticide Reform, and the Pesticide Action Network are the other plaintiffs in the case. The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court in Alameda County.