The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a $1.2 Million settlement agreement with Amazon on Thursday, after receiving charges that third-party sellers used the website to sell thousands of illegal pesticides.
“This agreement will dramatically reduce the online sale of illegal pesticides, which pose serious threats to public health in communities across America,” Chris Hladick, the EPA administrator for several north-western states, said in a statement. “Amazon is committed to closely monitoring and removing illegal pesticides from its website, and EPA will continue to work hard to ensure these harmful products never reach the marketplace.”
The EPA said it had found nearly 4,000 violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act on the site in an investigation that began in 2014. Investigators found that third-party vendors had been illegally selling foreign and mislabelled pesticides within the U.S.
In addition to the $1.2 million fine, the settlement also requires that Amazon develop a mandatory training program for all vendors selling pesticides on the online marketplace. Amazon agreed to monitor illegal pesticide products closely, and remove them from the website in an effort to “significantly reduce the number of illegal pesticides available through the online marketplace,” the EPA said.
In response to this, Amazon immediately removed the products from its website, banned foreign sellers from selling pesticides, and stepped up the monitoring of the website for illegal pesticides.
The company also asked customers who purchased the products in 2013-2016 to communicate safety concerns and urged them to dispose of the items, refunding the cost of the products amounting to $130,000, the EPA said. They are also developing an online training program to educate sellers about federal regulations and compliances that need to met while selling pesticides.
This course will be available to the sellers in English, Spanish and Chinese.
“Regulatory compliance is a top priority at Amazon,” a company spokesperson said. “Third-party sellers are required to comply with all relevant laws and regulations when listing items for sale on Amazon. When sellers don’t comply with our terms, we work quickly to take action on behalf of customers.”
“This settlement is a step in the right direction to protect the public health and the environment,” said Ed Kowalski, who directs compliance and enforcement for the EPA.