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Contact: Amy Cradic
(609) 984-1795


First in Series of Statewide Environmental Enforcement Strikes

(02/63) TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced that a targeted, three-day inspection of more than 50 agricultural sites is underway to strictly enforce pesticide regulations and help ensure farm worker safety. The enforcement site visits are occurring in Cumberland, Gloucester and Atlantic counties.

"We are committed to providing equal protection to all individuals and groups against environmental health risks," said Commissioner Campbell. "These concentrated efforts are allowing us to immediately correct unsafe labor conditions and minimize a worker's harmful exposure to pesticides."

As of July 31, DEP staff inspected 39 farms for compliance with pesticide safety regulations. Inspectors are checking for such requirements as adequate training and protective equipment for workers, and are examining areas of chemical storage. The inspections also include a review of records regarding the time and location of pesticide applications.

Twenty-three farms were issued Notices of Violation, with 15 cited for serious problems including failure to train workers and post essential pesticide information. DEP will make a decision of penalties on a case per case basis, and follow-up inspections will be conducted to ensure corrective action is taken. DEP enforcement officers also are providing on-site safety instruction to assist farm owners with compliance where necessary. The targeted, three-day inspection effort ends at the close of today - August 1, 2002.

"Farm owners have been generally cooperative during the safety inspections and we are very pleased that they are making efforts to comply," Commissioner Campbell added.

Approximately 40,000 farm workers are employed in New Jersey, including those who live in migrant camps on farms and "day-haulers" who commute from cities daily and are transported on buses by crew leaders.

With the assistance of two bilingual inspectors from its Pesticide Control Program, the DEP enforcement team is also conducting on-site interviews of farm workers to measure the effectiveness of current regulations and gain first-hand information about potentially unidentified exposure risks that may be experienced during daily operations.

"Protecting the safety of our farm workers is a paramount concern for everyone in the agricultural industry," said Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. "We support the DEP in its efforts to assist farmers in complying with pesticide regulations and will work closely with industry groups and others to ensure that all New Jersey farmers are aware of the importance of meeting these regulatory requirements."

Under the federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS) agricultural employers are required to provide pesticide safety training for workers (people performing hand labor in the field) and handlers (people mixing, loading, or applying pesticides) in a language the employees understand. Farm owners must ensure on-site access to pesticide safety information - including a posted list of current pesticide treatments on the property. In addition, farm owners must provide workers protective clothing, an ample supply of water, soap and towels for decontamination and routine washings, and emergency assistance/transportation if poisoned or injured through pesticide exposure. Owners are required to distribute educational pamphlets and pesticide facts sheets - available through the DEP - to workers as part of an employee orientation or annual employee training session.

The DEP conducts approximately 200 farm inspections annually for compliance with pesticide regulations. This directed effort, which is being conducted during the prime agricultural season, is the first concentrated strike organized by the department. Federal Environmental Protection Agency inspectors joined the DEP enforcement team as observers.

The DEP will initiate additional enforcement strikes statewide to ensure that overall compliance with environmental equity, water, solid and hazardous waste, air pollution, land use and other environmental requirements are being met. These special enforcement efforts will target particular regions and areas of need across the state, including urban centers.

NOTE: Farm owners can obtain safety manuals and copies of pesticide fact sheets, which are available in Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Korean, Laotian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Haitian, and Tagalog, through the DEP's website (Only the English version of the fact sheets is downloadable from the DEP website at this time. Versions translated into additional languages can be ordered via the Internet and are then delivered by mail.) To request additional information by phone, call the DEP at 609-984-6920.



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