Marijuana plants starting to flower at a Denver marijuana grow in March 2013. (Joe Amon, Denver Post file)

EPA fines Colorado hydroponics shop for sale of unlabeled pesticides

A Colorado grow-supply business is paying a federal fine because of its pesticide packaging.

Grow Depot, a Northglenn hydroponics and indoor gardening store at 970 W. 104th Ave., was cited and fined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly repacking and selling unlabeled pesticides, the agency announced Monday.

It’s the first time the EPA has penalized a Colorado grow shop for unlabeled pesticides, officials say.

Grow Depot agreed to pay a $27,500 penalty and stop the sale of unregistered pesticides as part of a settlement agreement.

In May 2016, a Colorado Department of Agriculture official conducting a pesticide inspection found that Grow Depot employees had poured registered, brand-name pesticides from their labeled bottles into unmarked, smaller 0.5-ounce and 1-ounce dropper bottles, according to the settlement.

Registered pesticides fall under the purview of the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Unregistered pesticides are the EPA’s jurisdiction.

There were more than 90 bottles of the repackaged pesticides for sale, said David Golden, inspector and environmental protection specialist for the EPA.

“They poured from the legal container — either quart- or gallon-sized — into 1-ounce bottles,” Golden said. “They didn’t provide any label information with the 1-ounce bottles.”

The settlement agreement with Grow Depot resolves alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, which requires that pesticides sold in the U.S. be registered with the EPA and carry labels that contain information about safe-handling and health and safety.

The bottles also allegedly did not have the EPA registration number, Golden said, noting that consumers could not look up the pesticides’ information online.

Grow Depot was charged with four counts of selling unregistered pesticides, four counts of repacking pesticides and one count for refusing an inspection, Golden said. The pesticides that were allegedly repackaged and sold were: Avid 0.15 EC Miticide, Forbid 4F, Eagle 20EW and Pylon, he said.

Grow Depot officials did not make any statements or comments during the investigation and settlement processes, he said.

“We don’t see it very often at all. … I would not think it’s a widespread practice,” Golden said of repackaging of pesticides into unlabeled bottles.

Grow Depot officials could not be reached for comment.

The EPA’s action against Grow Depot comes just weeks after the store was subject to a failed robbery attempt in which the suspect was shot.

Updated March 13, 2017 at 6:56 p.m. The following corrected information has been added to this article: Because of incorrect information from the EPA, previous versions of this article misstated the date of the alleged violation. It occurred in May 2016.