Multiple authorities investigating deadly use of Aluminum Phosphide

Multiple authorities investigating deadly use of Aluminum Phosphide

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Multiple local and federal agencies continue to investigate yesterday's deadly gas incident, which took the lives of four children.

As we told you yesterday, officials say the man who used this pesticide did not have the necessary license to do so. And The Texas Department of Agriculture is speaking out about how serious they take these cases, and what may happen to the person responsible.

Pro Chem Sales Manager Tyler Rich sells Aluminum Phosphide as a fumigant to get rid of rodents and other pests. But under law, he strictly only sells to people with a license through the Texas Department of Agriculture.

And the process of getting your license is not an easy one.

"There's a lot of regulations that go along with that and you know, different safety equipment that is needed when using a fumigant like that," says Rich.

Aluminum Phosphide was mixed with water, producing the toxic Phosphine gas, ultimately killing four children yesterday. Now officials are working to determine how the product ended up in the hands of an unlicensed person.

"We are working with both local and federal authorities on this," says Texas Department of Agriculture Director for Environmental and Biosecurity Programs Dale Scott. "Of course, the environmental protection agency who is the main agency involved in the registration of these products federally."

Rich worries incidents like these will make it more difficult for those licensed to use the products, to access them.

"Whenever people aren't good stewards of the product and sell it to someone without a license or give it to someone without a license, it just invites more regulation and makes it harder on law abiding people who are trained and know how to do it...harder for them to actually use the product," says Rich.

If the agencies choose to move forward with punishment, they would have to decide whether it would be a civil or criminal penalty.

"We would have to go through our legal team with that," says Scott. "But they could be subject to misapplication enforcement penalties."

Those enforcement penalties include an injunction to stop activity, fines or a misdemeanor charge.

Today we received preliminary autopsy results confirming fluid in the lungs of each child, pending further investigation.

The city of Amarillo says, "The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas Panhandle Poison Center (TPPC), City of Amarillo, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working collaboratively to investigate the tragic incident which occurred as a result of misuse of a regulated pesticide known as aluminum phosphide. The site of the incident is secured and does not pose any known health hazards to the surrounding community. Multiple local, state, and federal agencies are committed and working together to ensure the public's safety. While it appears that this tragic incident has been contained, concerns remain about whether this product may still be present in the community. If you believe that you have or know the whereabouts of this regulated pesticide, please contact the Poison Center at 800-222-1222."

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