State and federal regulators are investigating a chemical spill last month and general health and safety conditions at Copperstate Farms, one of Arizona’s largest medical marijuana cultivators.
A company spokesman told Phoenix TV stations KPHO and KTVK that a forklift driver accidentally knocked over about three to five gallons of a cleaner called “Strip-It” onto the floor of the fertilizer room. He said the cleaner was diluted and washed down a drain separate from the sewer.
Sixteen employees were taken to a local hospital as a precaution, and the company later brought in consultants to review safety procedures, the spokesman said.One former employee told the TV stations that she continued to feel ill and dizzy for days after, while another former employee complained about difficulty breathing while working in the greenhouse.Records show that the Arizona office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspected the site on July 10 after receiving a complaint. It’s the only complaint listed against Copperstate in OSHA’s enforcement inspection data base.

The company, based in Snowflake, Arizona, didn’t immediately return phone calls Monday but told the TV stations it is open to suggestions on how to improve health and safety compliance.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality also reportedly inspected the site and asked for additional information about how the chemical spill was handled and its procedures for managing hazardous materials.

As of February, Copperstate Farms had about 1.7 million square feet of greenhouses, with 348,000 square feet for cannabis cultivation.

Copperstate reportedly employs about 220 people.