Target 11 investigates: Weed killer killing more than weeds



PITTSBURGH - It was supposed to be an environmentally friendly weed killer, but it ended up killing trees.  Homeowners, landscapers and businesses throughout the area told Channel 11 of damage.

Consumer Investigator Robin Taylor learned about a settlement that can help.

Imprelis was a brand-new product designed to kill weeds such as dandelions, but thousands of trees started dying so the EPA banned it, and the manufacturer pulled it from the market.

Imprelis was used by lawn care professionals on golf courses, playing fields and yards. Then something unexpected happened. Spruce and pine trees started shriveling up.

"The new growth just comes out all spindly and twisted and kind of dehydrated,” said Randy Rawa, a homeowner in Mars, Pa.

Rawa lost three trees in his yard. By the time they died, he told Taylor, they looked like something Dr. Seuss would draw. 

DuPont, the manufacturer of Imprelis, has replaced them, but Rawa still finds it disturbing.

"It surprises me that it was released to the public and applied over so many acres and they didn't find this problem earlier on," said Rawa.

Now, DuPont has reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit and is running commercials about the tree damage. Consumers who think their trees were damaged should go to the settlement website,

The Grove City Country Club has lost 56 trees and could lose a dozen more.

Many of them started dying from the tops down. Jay Matthews, the course superintendent, showed Taylor what to look for.

"Yeah, see how that one's curled. This is typical herbicide damage," said Matthews.

Imprelis was sprayed on the fairways to kill broadleaf weeds, but the herbicide got into the shallow root systems of the evergreens, sickening trees that were 60 to 80 feet tall.

"Some of these trees could have been 80 years old," said Dave Gallagher, the treasurer of the Grove City Country Club.

DuPont agreed to pay $240,000 to have the trees removed and the soil purified -- one of the largest settlements so far. But Gallagher says you just can't replace 80-year-old trees.

"There's holes here that were so beautiful with these trees, and now the trees are removed and just a whole different look for our golf course," said Gallagher.

Under the settlement, DuPont is removing and replacing some trees, but you have to act quickly. The deadline to file a complaint is at the end of June.