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State orders pesticide company to stop discharges

By JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press Writer

The state Health Department has told a pesticide manufacturing company in Grand Forks to stop pumping out water, fearing chemicals may have reached as far as the Red River.

Officials of AGSCO Inc.'s Dakota Mill Road agreed to stop the discharges, after a meeting on Friday with state officials, said Dave Glatt, the Health Department's environmental chief.

"We have reason to believe that pesticide may be getting out of their sump," Glatt said. "We have no reason to believe that there are any health issues at this time."

Company officials issued a statement saying the discharges were from excessive "rain seepage water" and not from pesticide manufacturing.

Glatt said the state's investigation could take about a month.

"Our assessment will determine, what, if any, pesticide escaped," he said.

Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said problems with the plant on Grand Forks' north side were discovered April 26.

He said a state inspector discovered that groundwater from the basement of the building was being discharged from the plant, potentially contaminating English Coulee, which runs through the University of North Dakota campus and empties into the Red River.

"Our inspector found that residue was seeping into the basement of the building and then being pumped outside into a ditch which led to English Coulee," Johnson said in a statement. "City authorities subsequently tested water from the ditch and confirmed lindane."

Lindane is an insecticide. Johnson said the company makes DB Green, a seed treatment for small grains. The chemical is a mixture of lindane and maneb, a fungicide.

Johnson said product is not dangerous to people, but lindane is toxic to some "aquatic species."

"The water from our sump pump is being discharged onto our own property," the company's statement said. "All the discharge is due to excessive rainfall. There are not any discharges from the manufacturing process."

The company said the water was discharged about 800 feet away from the English Coulee.

The discharges were at AGSCO's former main facility, Johnson said. The Mill Road location is used by AGSCO for storage and sale. The company's new main plant is three miles south of Grand Forks.

Johnson said the state was unaware that the older facility was still being used to make pesticide.


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