Last year we reported on a deadly herbicide called Imprelis that had killed thousands of trees across the nation (read the original article, Imprelis: Another Deadly Herbicide, This Time From DuPont). The herbicide was pulled from the market and banned by the Environmental Protection Agency last year, and now, according to The New York Times, chemical giant DuPont — the maker of Imprelis — is paying big-time for releasing this potent chemical that should have never made it onto shelves.
The New York Times reported that about 30,000 homeowners, golf courses, landscapers and others have submitted damage claims to DuPont. Tree experts estimate that the herbicide — which was intended to kill weeds in cool-season lawn grasses — has killed hundreds of thousands of trees, and many worry that the pesticide could still do additional damage. Even though Imprelis is no longer on the market, the chemical in it, called “aminocyclopyrachlor,” could persist in the soil and it may continue to affect trees.
DuPont has set aside $225 million for Imprelis claims, but the Times reports that the company expects the payout could be as much as $575 million. These figures don’t include costs related to a class-action lawsuit filed by thousands of affected parties that’s being processed in a federal court in Philadelphia. (How do you set a price on the loss of a mature tree when it will take decades for a replacement to reach the size of the tree that was lost?) DuPont says that it hopes to finish processing claims by the end of fall. Meanwhile, homeowners with large, dead trees in their yards are understandably angry and frustrated about how long it’s taking for them to receive compensation for their losses. Read more in DuPont Says Claims Over Herbicide Are Rising.
The key point to take away from this tragedy isn’t that DuPont is paying for the millions in damages it caused. Rather, it’s that thousands of trees in our parks and backyards are now dead because of a flawed system that allows chemicals to be released on the market without being thoroughly vetted for safety. EPA and DuPont, we’re looking at you.
Shelley Stonebrook is MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine’s main gardening editor. She’s passionate about growing healthy, sustainable food and taking care of our environment. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.