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the roadside rest area monsanto good or evil

ANNISTON, Ala. -- On the west side of Anniston, the poor side of Anniston, the people ate dirt. They called it "Alabama clay" and cooked it for extra flavor. They also grew berries in their gardens, raised hogs in their back yards, caught bass in the murky streams where their children swam and played and were baptized. They didn't know their dirt and yards and bass and kids -- along with the acrid air they breathed -- were all contaminated with chemicals. They didn't know they lived in one of the most polluted patches of America.
Now they know. They also know that for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents -- many emblazoned with warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" -- show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew.
In 1966, Monsanto managers discovered that fish submerged in that creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dunked into boiling water. They told no one. In 1969, they found fish in another creek with 7,500 times the legal PCB levels. They decided "there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges." In 1975, a company study found that PCBs caused tumors in rats. They ordered its conclusion changed from "slightly tumorigenic" to "does not appear to be carcinogenic."

the Environmental Protection Agency ordered General Electric Co. to spend $460 million to dredge PCBs it had dumped into the Hudson River in the past, perhaps the Bush administration's boldest environmental action to date. The decision was bitterly opposed by the company, but hailed by national conservation groups and many prominent and prosperous residents of the picturesque Hudson River Valley.

Anniston is not much of a model city anymore. The EPA officials who set up an Anniston satellite office to deal with the PCB problem are now alarmed about widespread lead poisoning as well. The Army is building an incinerator here to burn 2,000 tons of deadly sarin and mustard gas. And the Anniston Star has been questioning Monsanto's past mercury releases.

Officials at Solutia Inc., the name given to Monsanto's chemical operations after they were spun off into a separate company in 1997, acknowledge that Monsanto made mistakes. But they also said that for years, PCBs were hailed for preventing fires and explosions in electrical equipment. Monsanto did stop making PCBs in 1977, two years before a nationwide ban took effect. And the current scientific consensus that PCBs are harmful, especially to the environment, masks serious disputes over just how harmful they are to people.

Still, the company's credibility problems linger in Anniston. A recent company e-mail revealed that even the gifts of computers and labs were part of a new damage-control strategy, along with donations to Siegelman's inaugural fund: "The strategy calls for significantly increasing . . . community outreach, contributions and political involvement while aggressively seeking . . . to contain media issues regionally." The company's critics say little has changed. And they warn that Monsanto, which no longer produces chemicals, is now promising the world that its genetically engineered crops are safe for human consumption.

Part of the problem is that despite all the publicity, much remains unknown about PCBs. Various animal studies have linked them to various cancers. Other studies suggest possible ties to low IQs, birth defects, thyroid problems, immune problems, diabetes. A federal research summary titled "Do PCBs Affect Human Health?" concluded: "No smoking gun . . . but plenty of bullets on the floor."

Records show that the Anniston plant did act to reduce its mercury releases after the Snow Creek fish kills. But it did not try to reduce PCB releases, even though the Anniston plant was leaking 50,000 pounds of PCBs into Snow Creek every year, while burying more than 1 million pounds of PCB-laced waste in its antiquated landfills. (By contrast, GE has been ordered to dredge 150,000 pounds of PCBs from the Hudson.) Jack Matson, a Pennsylvania State University environmental engineering ... more

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monsanto good or evil

ANNISTON, Ala. -- On the west side of Anniston, the poor side of Anniston, the people ate dirt. They called it "Alabama clay" and cooked it for extra flavor. They also grew berries in their gardens, raised hogs in their back yards, caught bass in the murky streams where their children swam and played and were baptized. They didn't know their dirt and yards and bass and kids -- along with the acrid air they breathed -- were all contaminated with chemicals. They didn't know they lived in one of the most polluted patches of America.
Now they know. They also know that for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents -- many emblazoned with warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" -- show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew.
In 1966, Monsanto managers discovered that fish submerged in that creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dunked into boiling water. They told no one. In 1969, they found fish in another creek with 7,500 times the legal PCB levels. They decided "there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges." In 1975, a company study found that PCBs caused tumors in rats. They ordered its conclusion changed from "slightly tumorigenic" to "does not appear to be carcinogenic."

the Environmental Protection Agency ordered General Electric Co. to spend $460 million to dredge PCBs it had dumped into the Hudson River in the past, perhaps the Bush administration's boldest environmental action to date. The decision was bitterly opposed by the company, but hailed by national conservation groups and many prominent and prosperous residents of the picturesque Hudson River Valley.

Anniston is not much of a model city anymore. The EPA officials who set up an Anniston satellite office to deal with the PCB problem are now alarmed about widespread lead poisoning as well. The Army is building an incinerator here to burn 2,000 tons of deadly sarin and mustard gas. And the Anniston Star has been questioning Monsanto's past mercury releases.

Officials at Solutia Inc., the name given to Monsanto's chemical operations after they were spun off into a separate company in 1997, acknowledge that Monsanto made mistakes. But they also said that for years, PCBs were hailed for preventing fires and explosions in electrical equipment. Monsanto did stop making PCBs in 1977, two years before a nationwide ban took effect. And the current scientific consensus that PCBs are harmful, especially to the environment, masks serious disputes over just how harmful they are to people.

Still, the company's credibility problems linger in Anniston. A recent company e-mail revealed that even the gifts of computers and labs were part of a new damage-control strategy, along with donations to Siegelman's inaugural fund: "The strategy calls for significantly increasing . . . community outreach, contributions and political involvement while aggressively seeking . . . to contain media issues regionally." The company's critics say little has changed. And they warn that Monsanto, which no longer produces chemicals, is now promising the world that its genetically engineered crops are safe for human consumption.

Part of the problem is that despite all the publicity, much remains unknown about PCBs. Various animal studies have linked them to various cancers. Other studies suggest possible ties to low IQs, birth defects, thyroid problems, immune problems, diabetes. A federal research summary titled "Do PCBs Affect Human Health?" concluded: "No smoking gun . . . but plenty of bullets on the floor."

Records show that the Anniston plant did act to reduce its mercury releases after the Snow Creek fish kills. But it did not try to reduce PCB releases, even though the Anniston plant was leaking 50,000 pounds of PCBs into Snow Creek every year, while burying more than 1 million pounds of PCB-laced waste in its antiquated landfills. (By contrast, GE has been ordered to dredge 150,000 pounds of PCBs from the Hudson.) Jack Matson, a Pennsylvania State University environmental engineering ... more

the roadside rest area

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