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Anniston, Alabama and Monsanto

Monsanto was one of the main manufacturers of PCBs for commercial use after World War II. Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were produced for electrical equipment, insulation, and a number of other uses due to its durability, resistance to conducting electricity, and capabilities of withstanding high temperatures. In the late 1970’s it was found that PCBs were a possible cause of human carcinogens and was made illegal to produce in the United States in 1979. By the time this occurred, millions of toxic PCBs and waste had been released into the environment through illegal methods.

One town that was a victim of the illegal and irresponsible dumping of thousands of pounds of toxic waste was Anniston, Alabama. Aware of the dangers facing the small town that previously housed a plant manufacturing PCBs, Monsanto kept the important health and safety information from Anniston’s citizens. This resulted in serious long-term health effects to many of Anniston’s residents. The most notable concerns are the higher than average prevalence of diabetes and cancer.

A trial in 2003 against Monsanto from Anniston plaintiffs resulted in a $700 million settlement. This included money that would directly benefit plaintiffs and plans to create an environmental-health clinic that offers free prescription medication for Anniston residents suffering health problems due to Monsanto PCBs. The lawsuit included Monsanto’s related businesses of Pfizer Corporation, Solutia, and Pharmacia.

The pollution of Anniston is extensive. The residents are forced to wear face masks before mowing their lawns in order to protect themselves against the toxic soil. The water sources around the town were often colored red or purple while manufacturing plants were operational. Now these water sources are banned to residents for fishing and other recreational activities. Furthermore, the town is now struggling to survive as residents continue to abandon the polluted area.

To learn more about Anniston, Alabama and the pollution Monsanto caused, read more here: