Anniston, AL and Manistique, MI; the first a legacy of lies, betrayal and continuing suffering. The latter an outstanding EPA success story.
What was the government’s motive for inaction and cover up in the case of Anniston and the high priority placement of the Manistique River AOC on the EPA’s superfund cleanup list?
The story of Anniston is a cautionary tale. Monsanto’s internal documents, many of which are being posted here for the first time for the world to finally see, uncover a shocking story of corporate deception and dangerous secrets.
As The Washington Post revealed [Monsanto Hid Decades of Pollution” (front page, Jan. 1, 2002) and “In Dirt, Water and Hogs, Town Got Its Fill of PCBs” (Jan. 1, 2002).], Monsanto hid its advanced knowledge of the health effects and vast PCB pollution problems from the public and – most importantly – from its closest neighbors, the people of Anniston.
While the documents provide a glimpse into Monsanto’s corporate culture, a spokesperson for a Monsanto spin-off corporation, Solutia, has repeatedly asserted that the company is “really pretty proud of what we did” and that Monsanto “did what any company would do, even today.”
The Monsanto-Solutia public relations propaganda being used to counter these revelations is replete with assertions that press coverage has been unfair, based on comments from its documents “taken out of context.”
Now, the world can read the story of Anniston, in context, and in Monsanto’s own words. Anniston, AL: A Town Poisoned by PCB’s
The Monsanto documents posted on this website surfaced from a series of lawsuits brought by Anniston residents, including Owens v. Monsanto, 96-CV-440, (N.D. Ala.).
The Owens case settled in April 2001 for $43 million dollars. The current case Abernathy v. Monsanto, CV-2001-832 (now called Bowie v. Monsanto), Etowah County Circuit Court, is in trial now.
Besides questions of who will pay to clean up Anniston, these court cases, and the documents emerging from them, raise more contemporary questions:
If Monsanto hid what it knew about its toxic pollution for decades, what is the company hiding from the public now?
An even better question is why the remediation of the Manistique River AOC was superfunded by the EPA and this same federal agency has refused to likewise for Anniston?
What was the motive behind the unnecessarily expensive cleanup and remediation of the Manistique River/Harbor AOC, while the pollution in Anniston remains a threat to human health and the surrounding bios.
The Manistique River flows southwest through Schoolcraft County in Michigan’s central Upper Peninsula, discharging into Lake Michigan at Manistique. The Area of Concern is the last 1.7 miles of the river, from the dam to the mouth of the harbor at Lake Michigan.
The physical characteristics of this portion of the river have been significantly altered over the last century, with construction of artificial islands in the river for boat docks during the lumbering era in the late 1800s, building of harbor breakwaters in 1913, and completion of the dam and flume in the 1920s.
Historical uses of Manistique River waters in the AOC include receiving wastes from sawmills, a paper mill, small industries, the municipal waste water treatment plant, plus navigation for shipping, ferrying, recreational boating and commercial fishing.
Current uses include receiving the wastewater discharges from Manistique Papers, Inc. and the City of Manistique Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Recreational uses are mainly boating, sightseeing, and fishing.