Polluted Tap Water – PCB’s and Lead Poisoning

Seattle is suing Monsanto for polluting the Lower Duwamish River. The river feeds into Puget Sound.

The pollutant?  PCB.  PCB’s are known to cause cancer, reproductive disorders, nervous system disorders, endocrine disorders, and damage to the immune system and were being named as a possible health hazard as far back as 1930. Lead poisoning has been documented to have occurred as far back as 6500 BC. We have known – and ignored.

PCB was used in the production of plastics, adhesives, fire retardants, pesticides, ink, lubricants and more. While Monsanto was responsible for 99% of all PCB use, it was banned by the EPA in 1977. A plant in Sauget Illinois was the largest producer of PCB’s. And while Monsanto knew of the toxicity levels, they failed to do anything – continuing to dump excesses and mass produce for profit.

Anniston, Alabama was the site of one such Monsanto dumping and ultimately won a $700 million lawsuit in 2003 – 26 years after the chemical was banned.

A privately owned quarry in Southern Wales was the allowed dumping site of Monsanto between 1967 and 1972. Despite a 2005 report that found the site contained over 75 different toxic chemicals, Monsanto refused to take responsibility for the pollution and cleanup. The Wales Environmental Agency decided that the least costly remediation was to place an engineered cap on the quarry at a cost of 1.5 million pounds. Monsanto denied responsibility but agreed to pay a ‘portion’ of the cost.

Sauget, Illinois is a suburb of St. Louis. Not really a true town, it is a company town where polluting companies came to find root from regulations. The town was incorporated by Monsanto so that it could define its own regulations and as a result became a US dumping ground for multiple pollutants.

Sauget is now considered an industrial disaster. A creek traveling thru Sauget is said to be so polluted that when an animal came in contact with the sludge water, they died within 24 hours from chemical burns. The EPA erected a fence around the creek. The creek feeds into the Mississippi River.

Sauget is the site of two EPA Superfunds. The Lower Duwamish River is the site of an EPA Superfund. And despite the fact that Monsanto was the polluter, despite the fact that Monsanto continues to pollute, despite the fact that Monsanto is worth a net $13 billion – the Superfund Fund is empty and thus taxpayers are responsible for the cleanup cost.

How is it that Monsanto continues to skate liability while oil companies pay?

Is it possible that the crime rates of St. Louis are linked to decades of ingested pollutants?

The mayor of Flint Michigan is asking for Federal remedial funds to deal with the ‘behavioral issues’ that will arise as a result of the lead poisoning. Because children exposed to lead have significant learning disabilities, communication impairment and aggressive behavior issues.  Issues that have actually been documented for centuries as a result of blood lead levels.

Since 1901, the murder rate in St. Louis has tripled. In a 1993 report conducted by the Upper Mississippi River Water Quality Initiative, the toxicity of the river was reason for concern for the safety of residents along its channel. The primary toxin cited was PCB, but also included heavy metals and pesticides. The report cites two primary sources; agricultural runoff of pesticides (Monsanto) and Industrial pollutants (Monsanto). The report states that despite PCB’s being banned, they seemed to have actually accumulated and persisted in the environment and in sediments.

In 2015, the St. Louis water was once again afoul with the smell of geosmin. Geosmin is in itself not toxic but it reveals that the water that has this odor is surface water, potentially polluted with sediment and all the same toxins that are now in the Mississippi River having flowed through sediment to get there.

While water quality has improved as treatment facilities have improved their measuring capabilities and their extraction techniques, these measures are relatively new. Decades of pollutants streamed through the taps and were ingested by children. The consequences of which we may just now be made aware as we learn more about the causes and effects. Unfortunately, the damage is done.

While Monsanto is a well known progenitor of pollutants and toxic chemicals, it continues to – skate.  Why? They have the protection of the EPA and the FDA.  Numerous articles cite former Monsanto employees and/or executives who later worked for the EPA and FDA.  A rather obvious conflict of interest.

*Lidia Watrud filed two patents on behalf of Monsanto in 1986 and again in 1999. She worked as a Microbial Researcher and Biotech Researcher for Monsanto. For the EPA she worked as a Principle Investigator, Environmental Effects Lab Researcher and is currently a Manager for New Technologies for USDA at the EPA. She is currently on the Board of Monsanto.

*Linda Fisher currently VP at DuPont for Health and Environmental Safety formerly was second in command at the EPA and before that a VP at Monsanto.

Within the EPA’s tasked $8.6 billion budget for 2016, they state they are tasked with providing access to clean, safe drinking water as well as a reliable and effective wastewater system.  According to their 2016 budget, they are providing dedicated funding of $4.05 billion to be allocated to “Protecting America’s Waters”.

The EPA lists as one of its seven major accomplishments; “instrumental in improving the health of rivers, lakes and coastal waters. It has stopped billions of pounds of pollution from fouling the water…”   However when reviewing the top 50 most polluted waterways in 1996, and the top most polluted waterways today – there seems to be no change…

In the world of business, that does not represent an accomplishment or success.

In fact it is criminal.

Leave a Reply