OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - It was a new product that promised to make your yard look beautiful by killing broadleaf weeds. Instead, the herbicide Imprelis has been blamed for killing thousands of trees and shrubs across the metro and the nation.
The damage to yards began in the summer of 2011. Now, more than a year later, local homeowners are trying to recoup some of their losses by negotiating settlements with Imprelis manufacturer, DuPont. It is a process some describe as time-consuming and frustrating.
RELATED | Recalled weed killer harms landscaping, leads to settlements http://bit.ly/RAaX92
Lou Scimecca of Overland Park, Kan., has spent time and money landscaping his back yard. But in 2011, to his surprise, his yard's well-manicured look changed dramatically in just a few short months.
Scimecca had a row of arborvitaes shrubs in his backyard, which provided privacy for his family.
A picture taken by Scimecca in May 2011 shows the shrubs looking healthy. Around that time, Ryan Lawn and Tree applied Imprelis. By August, just three months later, the look of the shrubs changed dramatically. By July 2012, another photo shows the once-healthy shrubs appearing brown, dry and drooping.
"It just got progressively worse as time went on from June of '11 when they notified me of the issue," Scimecca said.
In Aug. 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a stop sale order for Imprelis after reports from a number of states that the herbicide may have damaged types of evergreen trees including Norway spruce and white pine.
A DuPont spokesperson tells Call For Action the company has received 33,000 claims from homeowners due to Imprelis.
Scimecca estimates $35,000 in damages to his landscaping. He has hired an attorney and is trying to settle with DuPont instead of signing up with a class action lawsuit.
"Dupont is just dragging their feet on this whole process," he added.
Jane Martin of Lenexa, Kan., also lost several shrubs and one pine tree. Martin has not agreed on a settlement with DuPont. She is frustrated with the settlement restrictions and is concerned about potential long-term effects of Imprelis.
"They are going to give you a limited warranty on the trees you are going to be replanting. Well I'm not real happy about that," Martin said. "That tells me that they don't know how long it's going to be in the soil."
In a response to Call For Action questions, a DuPont spokesperson said "If a property was treated with labeled use rates of Imprelis on or before July 15, 2011, there are no restrictions on replanting trees. If there are any residual levels of Imprelis in the soil, we believe that they are so low that they will not cause any effect on newly planted trees. "
The spokesperson goes on to say, "If the property owner has signed a Claims Resolution Agreement and believes they have additional Imprelis-related tree injury, they can submit a warranty claim as outlined in their Agreement. "
Kansas State Extension horticultural Dennis Patton said, "What's applied in the homeowner market usually has a short residual. "
Call For Action contacted Patton, who believes the damage is over.
"It hit, it dissipated, and so we should not be seeing more problems from this occurring," Patton said.
Some homeowners like Scimecca have doubts. He removed his dead scrubs but is concerned about replants. He worries the effects caused by Imprelis may not be over.
"All the risk is on me for any new damage that's found in the future," Scimecca said.
In response to questions about homeowner frustrations over the length of time it takes to settle losses, DuPont wrote:
DuPont has a large and dedicated team working on Imprelis claims to create tailored compensation proposals for property owners as quickly as possible. This is a complicated process and it takes time to prepare accurate and fair assessments of each property. We have offered resolution agreements to many property owners.
DuPont has received approximately 33,000 claims through the Imprelis Claims Resolution Process. More than 75 percent of the property owners who have submitted claims have received a Claims Resolution Agreement from DuPont, and the remainder of property owners who have submitted claims will receive their Claims Resolution Agreement this fall. Currently, we are sending hundreds of Claims Resolution Agreements to property owners every day, and some have received payments, some have had their trees removed and some claims have been closed. We're working quickly to process the remaining claims.
If property owners have questions about Imprelis, you can contact the DuPont Imprelis Hotline at 1-866-796-4733.