WASHINGTON – The U.S. government has fined pest control company Terminix $10 million after a Delaware family vacationing in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands was exposed to a restricted pesticide in their villa.
Terminix International Co. LP and its Virgin Islands subsidiary were sentenced on Monday for violating a federal law that banned the use of methyl bromide indoors in 1984, the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement released Monday. The local company used methyl bromide in several residences in the Virgin Islands, including a St. John resort where the family was staying in March 2015. A couple and their two teenage sons fell seriously ill after the villa below theirs was fumigated with the odorless, highly toxic pesticide.
In addition to the fines, Terminix will perform community service related to training commercial pesticide applicators and a separate health services training program. Terminix also agreed to stop using methyl bromide in the U.S. and its territories.
“The sentences in this case reflect the serious nature of the defendants’ illegal actions and the unacceptable consequences of those actions,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in the statement. “This case should serve as a stark reminder that pesticides must be applied as intended and that those who ignore laws that protect public health will be held accountable by EPA and our law enforcement partners.”
The two teens are still paralyzed while their father is partially paralyzed and can barely speak, officials said. Last year, Terminix agreed to pay the family an $87 million settlement, on top of $3 million it already had paid to the family and an undisclosed payment from the Memphis-based company’s insurer.