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DA prevails against helicopter reckless spraying pesticides
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The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office notched a win on Tuesday after joining forces with California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to secure a decision against a San Joaquin County helicopter company accused to allowing pesticides to drift into inhabited areas.

Alpine Helicopter Service, Inc., according to the ruling, was sued by the California Department of Justice and the DPR in 2020 after the pesticides that the company applied in a number of areas in the county allegedly drifted beyond where it was supposed to be contained.

According to the complaint, the company recklessly applied aerial pesticides on four different occasions beginning in May of 2014 when spraying an island out in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta during weather conditions that allowed for the chemicals to drift onto nearby crops – causing substantial crop losses.

Another incident occurred in 2017 near a special education school in Lodi after pesticides drifted and school staff discovered corrosive pesticides on school buildings, grass fields, playground equipment, picnic benches, and sidewalks.

Both of those cases were prosecuted by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office.

“We have a duty to hold accountable those who act with reckless disregard for the safety and health of our community,” Verber Salazar said in statement announcing the ruling. “Responsible applications of pesticides are paramount to protecting our environment while sustaining a vibrant agricultural community.

“Thank you to the Quality of Life Division, Deputy District Attorney Kelly McDaniel, the San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office for their commitment to the safety of all Californians.”

In September of 2019, according to the complaint, pesticides applied near the San Joaquin County Regional Sports Complex drifted onto neighboring fields while children were playing soccer at the facility.

The decision against Alpine Helicopter, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement, should serve as a warning to other businesses looking to flout the law at the expense of the public’s general health and welfare.

“Today’s decision is an important win for many in our state who live and work in agricultural communities,” Bonta said in a statement. “Pesticides are toxic chemicals, and we have safeguards in place for a reason. Alpine’s careless approach to pesticide application is unacceptable.

“This decision should send a strong message to businesses: If you violate the law and ignore the safety of our communities, we will hold you accountable.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.