Exterminator charged in probe of pesticide spill

November 08, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A Silver Spring pest control firm was charged yesterday with a felony violation of the federal Clean Water Act in connection with a pesticide spill in Rock Creek that killed up to 150,000 fish last year.

Pied Piper Pest Control Inc. was charged after an investigation into a May 17, 2000, spill of cypermethrin -- a pesticide used to kill termites and other insects -- from a company truck into a parking lot, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

Along with the company, criminal investigators with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency charged the firm's owner, Martin Ira Rhode, 47, of Brookeville, Montgomery County, and an employee, Charles Lewis Thomas III, 49, of Berwyn Heights, Prince George's County, with misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act.

According to court papers, the pesticide was spilled as a worker replaced a pump on a truck. The worker then washed the pesticide into a storm drain with a garden hose, the court papers say.

Richard J. McIntire, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment, said the spill caused one of the largest fish kills in recent years.

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