EPA Summons Pied Piper to Court

Nov. 20, 2001
A pest control company and employees are charged with federal violations after mishandling of a pesticide spill kills fish in a tributary of the Potomac River.

Pied Piper Pest Control Inc., of Silver Spring, Md., the company owner, Martin Ira Rhode of Brookville, Md., and an employee, Charles Lewis Thomas, III, of Berwyn Heights, Md., are charged with federal law violations resulting in the killing of fish and other aquatic life in Rock Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River.

Pied Piper is charged with a felony violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and a misdemeanor violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. Rhode is charged with a misdemeanor violation of the CWA. Thomas is charged with misdemeanor violations of both acts.

All of the defendants were charged in connection with a spill of the pesticide Prevail onto the parking lot at the Pied Piper facility in Silver Spring. Prevail contains cypermethrin, which is extremely toxic to fish and other aquatic life.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that instead of cleaning up the spill with absorbents as advised on the pesticide's label, the spill was washed with a hose into a storm drain that emptied into Rock Creek.

If convicted, Pied Piper faces a maximum of up to $700,000 in fines. Rhode faces a maximum of up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000, if convicted, and Thomas faces a maximum of up to two years in prison and/or up to $200,000 in fines, if convicted.

EPA's Criminal Investigation Division investigated the case with assistance from the state of Maryland, Montgomery County and the District of Columbia.

EPA notes that an indictment is merely an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

edited by Sandy Smith

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