Steps

Steps to consider when responding to off-target chemical drift.

  1. If you personally came in contact with the chemical through drift or droplets, call the poison control center or seek doctor for treatment advice. The 24-hour medical emergency assistance or chemical emergency assistance (Spill, leak, accident) is 1-800-888-8372.
    1. If you go to the hospital,  you can request a toxicology blood test workup and/or have them collect a hair sample for any testing.
  2. If you came in contact with the vapors or spray droplets, you should remove your clothing and place in a sealed clean gallon-size plastic bag.  The SDDA inspector should collect your clothing.
  3. Call the farmer or sprayer immediately to obtain the names of the chemicals that were reportedly sprayed.  They almost always provide the mix-ticket.  If they refuse, local law enforcement can get it for you.
  4. As soon as you are able, file a complaint at the EPA ECHO website. The EPA page is used page to "report what appears to you as a possible violation of environmental laws and regulations. Information you submit will be forwarded to EPA environmental enforcement personnel or to the appropriate regulatory authority." The EPA states that "if you see an immediate health risk or environmental threat," you should call local law enforcement immediately.
  5. SDDA does not get involved in any damage claims, so you are advised to call local law enforcement immediately to file a complaint and provide them as much as evidence as you have including photos.  Since SDDA doesn't get involved in injury and damage claims of any kind, we strongly recommend you hire a firm like GeoTek Engineering and Testing Services to take samples and help with evidence collection and building a basis for your complaint in case it goes to court.  Optionally, your organic inspector can provide the same services if you are certified organic.
  6. Journal in your farm activity logbook the exact date, time, and details of the chemical drift event and report the incident to your certification body.  They will likely order an additional inspection so it is important to contact them very soon afterward even if you only suspect alleged drift.
  7. Report the incident to your organic certifying agency within 24 hours.  They will likely order an additional inspection and their organic inspector may also take samples.
  8. You may wish to upload your photos and videos to a secure cloud storage location on the Internet where they can be shared with state or federal agency staff.
  9. If your pets come in contact with the spray, you will need to wash them too, but only after you take care of yourself first.  If your animals start having any symptoms of acute poisoning at all, take them to the veterinary clinic and request toxicological blood tests for the active ingredients in the chemicals that were sprayed.
  10. If you have beehives that are negatively affected, contact the SD state apiary inspector, Bob Reiners. Request a pesticide residue test on the dead bees for the products that were reportedly sprayed.  Also, you may want to test the wax and pollen for pesticide residues.
  11. When the inspector arrives from the State of South Dakota, document his actions, i.e. where were the samples taken from, how long were they there, what did they look at, what areas did they visit.  Better yet, record the whole inspection.
  12. Once the lab results come back from the samples taken, send a copy to your organic certification agency.  They will send you a follow-up letter on the outcomes of their findings.
  13. If you sustained damages, you may wish to send a copy of the notification from the certification agency to the landowner/manager and/or commercial applicator along with a letter explaining how the sanctions have impacted your operation.  If they refuse to acknowledge you or turn it over to their insurance agency for consideration, you may have to move to the next step and seek legal advice.
  14. If all else fails to recover damages, start your search for an attorney and seek legal advice from the onset.  We strongly advise putting together a report of all the details surrounding the event and have this ready to present. It may take 10 to 20 consultations with attorneys until you find one willing to help you. That attorney can start writing letters and get responses on your behalf.
  15. And finally, document all actions that you have taken in your farm journal or diary.

The State of SD is your ally in this, so treat them kindly despite how painstakingly slow the process can be. They use South Dakota AG Labs and it does take quite a while to get samples turned around.