Time to confront Arcata’s evil neighbor Sun Valley Floral Farms

The man with the power to stop this – Sun Valley CEO and President Lane DeVries

Don’t be fooled by the expanse of pretty irises growing between Foster Avenue and Bay School Road in the Arcata Bottom.

Earlier this year, Sun Valley Floral Farms sprayed that field with the carcinogen glyphosate (aka Roundup) without adequately informing neighbors, the three nearby schools, or anyone in the densely populated Greenview/Windsong neighborhood of Arcata, all of which were downwind of the spraying.

In 2015 the World Health Organization declared glyphosate a “probable carcinogen.” Later the state of California added glyphosate to its list of chemicals that cause cancer. Since then Monsanto and its parent company Bayer, which produces glyphosate, have suffered several high-profile court losses to victims of glyphosate who contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. By now managers of any company that uses glyphosate should well know that in doing so they risk giving workers and neighbors cancer. (A new study shows when combined with other risk factors Glyphosate dramatically increases the risk of breast cancer)*TE

The Arcata Bottom tract is new to Sun Valley’s floral production. It was formerly used to feed cattle, with no chemicals needed. Yet over summer Sun Valley was at it again, spraying the same field with yet another carcinogen: chlorothalonil.

In this case, I watched it happen. My presence was coincidental, as spraying occurred with no public notice. On the afternoon of July 30 a Sun Valley operator sprayed chlorothalonil onto the company’s new field. It was chilling to watch the day’s predictable northwest breeze wafting the chemical across Bay School Road right into neighbors’ homes and yards, and presumably into Arcata.

The next day a large troupe of agricultural workers tarried in this very field, presumably absorbing the toxic impacts of a long-lasting chemical like chlorothalonil. (I learned that the chemical was chlorothalonil by contacting the Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner’s office.)

The state and federal governments list chlorothalonil as a probable human carcinogen and reproductive toxin. Chlorothalonil can contaminate the air traveling beyond the field and has been found in residential neighborhoods in many areas where it is applied. It is a potential groundwater contaminant, is persistent in soils, and is acutely toxic to fish, crabs, and frogs.

In 2016 (the last year for which statistics are available) Sun Valley used 1,152 pounds of chlorothalonil in Humboldt County. Now that the company is cultivating a new field its use of chlorothalonil has undoubtedly risen.

Also in 2016, Sun Valley applied 1,621 pounds of captan—a mutagen and carcinogen that can cause respiratory damage and is highly toxic to fish—and 171 pounds of thiophanate-methyl. Thiophanate-methyl is a possible human carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor.

(The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences defines endocrine disruptors as “chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.”) Other dangerous and toxic chemicals used by Sun Valley include diuron (birth defects, groundwater contamination, destruction of aquatic invertebrates) and the infamous 2,4-D (developmental and reproductive toxin, a possible human carcinogen, potential groundwater contaminant).

It’s bad enough that Sun Valley uses these poisons for non-food crops that could easily be produced without them. It’s infuriating that the company would waltz onto a brand new field, formerly free of toxics, and blithely contaminate it as well. Sun Valley might blandly state that “we adhere and comply with state and federal laws” in applying the chemicals, but this may not even be true.

The company has no legal right to contaminate the waters and wildlife of California, which are owned by the people, and Sun Valley certainly has no legal right to poison its workers and its neighbors. Without extensive and expensive monitoring there is no way to adequately ascertain the extent of such contamination.

Companies like Sun Valley count on this difficult process, and deferent county and state officials, to protect their “right” to do whatever they want, no matter the human and environmental costs.

The County of Humboldt and the City of Arcata, and its residents, need to step up and object to Sun Valley’s contamination. There is no reason these irises cannot be grown organically, except that it might cost a penny or two more on the dollar.

So instead, Sun Valley management, including company CEO and President Lane DeVries, has opted to impose these costs onto the lives of workers, neighbors, and the environment.

Greg King Mad River Union Oct 2, 2019

6 thoughts on “Time to confront Arcata’s evil neighbor Sun Valley Floral Farms

  1. I worked at Sun Valley for a year as a Professional Flower Picker.

    Let’s just say, it didn’t do my health any good at all.

    Back in those days (over 30 years ago) they could get away with spraying just about everything they wanted. I had hoped that in the interim there had been some restraints put upon them (they never chose to use self restraint) but sadly, I was wrong.

    A nice out door job is no good to you if you sacrifice your health bathing in the chemicals while enjoying the sun (or the rain, or the hail, or the sleet or even the occasional snow).

    I got one positive out of it: Remember the scene in the Blues Brothers Movie when the Brothers and Matt the Guitar Murphy start comparing the food to be had at various jails and prisons?

    I lived that scene. I was working in a row between two fellows doing just that (evidently, the Humboldt County Jail came out rather low in the ratings… food for thought).

    Kids, don’t work there. It’s just not worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Are you unaware that Andrea Pickart (USFWS) is applying Glyphosate on lanphere’s frontal dunes?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How much money (legally or otherwise) has Sun Valley given to racist Trumptard Rex Bohn, crass dumbass Virginia Bass, etc. to overlook Sun Valley’s MANY criminal violations of labor laws, environmental laws, etc?

    #RepublicansSuck 🐘👈🏼👄🍌

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What can we do to stop them from spraying again? I live on Bay School Road and have a young baby. They never informed us and we walk and play outside by that field every day. This is disturbing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Get the City of Arcata to put pressure on them for at least notifications

      Liked by 1 person

      • I could be wrong about this (like that never happens, right?) but I doubt that would work.

        In the past Sun Valley was always very careful to keep their operations out in the County. I’d be very surprised to see them working properties within the City Limits of Arcata (the most proactive municipality in the County).

        We are all painfully aware that the County has some problems when it comes to this sort of thing.

        Of course, they could have done goofed up.

        Liked by 1 person

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