List of pesticides used by companies not kept by TN Dept. of Agr - WSMV News 4

List of pesticides used by companies not kept by TN Dept. of Agriculture

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

The state is now investigating complaints about a material that fell from the sky in Lawrence County.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is checking whether an aerial company misused a pesticide and if that caused more than a dozen people to get sick and 10 animals to die in Summertown.

At this time, the department is unable to say what the pesticide might have been.

Assistant Commissioner of Public Affairs Corinne Gould said it’s too early in the investigation to identify the substance.

Investigators are in the process of interviewing everyone involved and taking samples from the water and vegetation, Gould said. But the names of pesticides used by any licensed aerial company are not always on file with the state.

Jodi Harrington said she noticed changes in her horse about the same time she noticed a plane flying near her property in Summertown: bumps along both sides of the animal’s neck. And just a day after seeing the aircraft again last month, Harrington said she started coughing up blood.

“There should be limitations on what is sprayed if indeed it is toxic to the community,” Harrington said.

Harrington alerted the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, which has received 26 complaints in recent weeks.

The aircraft belongs to Thornton Aerial Application Service in Alabama, which contracts with several farmers in Lawrence County.

The pilot told the News 4 I-Team the complaints stem from three occasions when he dropped untreated seeds over crops in Summertown.

The aim of TDA’s investigation is to see if the company misused pesticides. Gould said TDA will ask the company for information on what they sprayed and when they sprayed it. Currently, that is not information the state readily keeps on file, he said.

What the department does require is certification and licensure to use pesticides, which Thornton obtained.

Gould said the company has been in good standing with the state.

She said labels will play a key role in the probe. The investigation will look at whether Thornton followed detailed instructions on how to apply pesticides, if they were in fact used.

“If you drink too much water, it can be dangerous,” Gould said. “So if you exceed the limits in any substance whatsoever you can see repercussions.”

If the state uncovers wrongdoing, Thornton could face penalties.

State Rep. Barry Doss, R-Leoma, dismissed the complaints, calling the claims “concocted.”

“I don’t think there’s anything to it at all,” Doss said in a phone interview.

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