The U.S. Office of the Inspector General late last month issued a scathing assessment of EPA’s Region 8 compliance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, blaming inspection issues in North Dakota for the regions lack of compliance with federal regulations. Primarily, the report takes issue with EPA Region 8 inspectors not conducting inspections at establishments in the state that produce pesticides and the fact that North Dakota does not have a state inspector with qualifications equivalent to a federal inspector to conduct those inspections.
According to details in the report, EPA staff indicated that North Dakota officials had said they did not want federal inspectors conducting the inspection, an act which OIG says increases the risk that pesticides are not in compliance with federal law.
In response, North Dakota Agricultural Commissioner Doug Goehring released a statement on Wednesday of last week stating, in part, “I feel like we’ve been thrown under the bus,….North Dakota inspectors have been routinely conducting producer establishment inspections, under state and federal law and authority, through a cooperative agreement with EPA to ensure there is no risk to human health and the environment.”Goehring also stated that the agreement does not specify these inspections are to be conducted with federal credentials.
The report came as a surprise to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) since the state has an 86% pesticide compliance rate, the highest in the nation. North Dakota state inspectors use education compliance to ensure that state and federal laws meeting EPA requirements for compliance are met. North Dakota state inspectors conducted 918 pesticide inspections in 2014.
OIG says the report is a quick reaction report and represents their opinion and not necessarily that of EPA. The final decisions will be made by EPA managers in accordance with audit procedures