Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monsanto PCB Contaminant Warning Continuing for Alabama's Lake Martin--Calhoun, Chilton, St. Clair, Shelby and Talladega Counties

*Video added at conclusion (Fox13 reporters offered bribes to keep quiet 83 rewrites.)
We've covered this issue of the ongoing fish consumption warnings resulting from the Monsanto/Solutia PCB contamination to Alabama's Lake Martin in a previous post, but it has come back around as current news with another warning "issued." The warnings have never really been lifted in actuality, and perhaps this is in the current news cycle because of some testing results that didn't turn out well. Sources tell us that is the case, but don't expect ADEM and EPA Region 4 to say much more about this.

Monsanto's the primary culprit responsible for this PCB contamination, but they're not the only ones who have seriously degraded the Coosa River that feeds Lake Martin--it has been under assault for years from coal fired power plants like Alabama Power and Georgia's GE plant.
*(See page at blog footer "The Most Contaminated Place On Earth" The Anniston PCB contamination ranks # 7 of America's Worst Man Made Environmental Disasters.)

November 16, 2010
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Department of Public Health says there's a potential health risk from eating fish caught in the Lake Logan Martin area.

Possible polychlorinated biphenyl contamination caused the department to issue advisories Oct. 7. PCBs were used as electrical insulation until they were banned in 1979. PCBs are listed by the department as a possible carcinogen.

The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating and working on cleanup strategies.
Pam Scully, the EPA's remedial project manager for the Anniston PCB site, says the investigation includes the Monsanto plant site in Anniston and the area from Snow Creek down to Choccolocco Creek.

Scully says PCB concentrations have been decreasing, but the EPA needs to make sure they keep going down.

The Daily Home's Matt Quillen has a lengthier article on this;
The Monsanto Company plant site in Anniston dumped PCBs onto the ground and into water from the 1930s until they were banned, according to reports.
"The (Monsanto) facility itself had landfills that were not properly capped or the caps were compromised in some way,” Scully said. "In the mid-1990s, those caps were re-installed and there were some diversion ditches built to prevent contamination from being released into water bodies." 
"We still have areas that need protective measures, but the surface water discharges that were occurring in the 1990s were much higher than they are now. So now we are dealing with residuals that were either in the water body or in the floodplains."
From the Chemical Industry Archives a project of the Environmental Working Group website;
The story of Anniston is a cautionary tale.... of shocking corporate deception and dangerous secrets.

Monsanto's defense of its actions surrounding PCBs can best be summarized this way: the company claims it didn't know that PCBs were harmful to human health or persistent in the environment until the late 1960s, and as soon as the company learned of these threats, it acted quickly and responsibly to address the problem in a cooperative, forthright manner with the government.
"And the truth is that in 1966 when we found out that PCBs were in the environment, we started an investigation journey and we tried to gather information and we acted responsibly." [Trial Transcript, Owens v. Monsanto CV-96-J-440-E, (N.D. Alabama April 4, 2001), pg. 454, line 6] ...
"When Monsanto learned that PCBs could possibly be in the environment, it acted promptly and responsibly and continues to do so." [Trial Transcript, Owens v. Monsanto CV-96-J-440-E, (N.D. Alabama April 4, 2001), pg. 455, line 14]
But as the company's own documents show, Monsanto went to extraordinary efforts to keep the public in the dark about PCBs, and even manipulated scientific studies by urging scientists to change their conclusions to downplay the risks of PCB exposure. 
Monsanto's conduct, throughout the entire period that the company made PCBs, was less than commendable.
Their attempts today to backpedal on the science and shirk responsibility for the global saturation of PCBs is equally discouraging, as are their repeated attempts to "green" their image with flashy, expensive *PR campaigns.
 *(Who do we know in Alabama that is the sole lobbyist for Monsanto? Stephen Bradley. 2010 lobbyists Alabama Ethics Board records, pg 8 of 84.)
Today Monsanto does not deny that everyone is contaminated with PCBs. They argue instead that since they have contaminated the entire planet they are innocent of all liability.
This sounds eerily similar to what ADEM said to what Moulton, Alabama's Mayor Alexander said in the press after the Synagro contamination of North Alabama:
For one day, Alexander, the Moulton mayor, banned Morris Farms from dumping its leachate into the Moulton wastewater treatment plant. ADEM officials sat him down, however, and he reversed his position.
“ADEM said we were already contaminated, and it was too late to do anything about it,” Alexander said Friday. “Nobody notified us of the danger until it was too late. We were already contaminated.” 
In our previous posting of the radioactive elements in Texas' drinking water, the state agencies followed a similar path, they didn't tell anyone until after the fact, lowballed the exposures, and protected the offenders, NOT the unsuspecting public who counts on these state agencies to be the community watchdogs for public health risks from the companies they oversee, permit and regulate.

All of this is going in the same direction--intentional lying and putting the public at large at risk of arduous health risks.

Is this kind of thinking the new frontier for these fiends and their next PR push: "You're already contaminated so what do you want us to do now? We may as well just let the companies keep right on doing what they are doing."

If we follow that line of thought, we'll reach the real end-goal of big business and its enablers, (which are almost, *but not quite, exclusively republican) to abolish the EPA and remove all federal regulatory rules. They would much prefer that state's rights drafts the rules because all their own people are already in place in these agencies.
*Obama's Supreme Court Justice pick Elena Kagan, in her capacity as Solicitor General, intervened (Dec. 2009) in the first case the SCOTUS was to rule on involving genetically modified crops, Monsanto vs Geertson Seed, and defended Monsanto's right to contaminate the environment with its GM Alfalfa. Obama appointed Monsanto goon Michael Taylor as Food Safety Czar, "biotech governor of the year" Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture and Monsanto lobbyist Islam Siddiqui as the US Ag Trade representative.

Comforting isn't it? If the republicans don't get us the first go around, then the dems who have sold their souls to special interests will finish us off.

Alabama has a law that limits the time frame for bringing a legal action from a toxic exposure to two years from the actual date of exposure. If you don't get sick in that time frame, your fight to hold those responsible becomes much harder and you can be assured of a legal battle lasting from at least 5-10 years, and longer.

With some exposures, such as the ones that cause cancers, you'll probably be dead before you collect, if you ever do collect. You can also count on a greatly reduced sum thanks to the Big Mules ensuring that Alabama's Supreme Court is packed with big business friendlies.
The indisputable evidence is in the public record for related court trials such as Owens vs. Monsanto. The Owens case settled in 2001 for $43 million, but Monsanto has never admitted wrongdoing. The amount awarded was pathetic, but it was clear to the plaintiffs that Monsanto/Solutia would keep the matter in court long after the money would be useful to anyone living.

In subsequent attempts to distance itself from the toxic skeletons in its closet, *the "new" Monsanto Company claims that it's not the same Monsanto Company that polluted the community of Anniston, Alabama and other communities. 
While its current parent company, Pfizer-Pharmacia (nice folks in their own right), prepares to spin off Monsanto into an independent company, the ghosts of Monsanto's past fade from the public's mind.
*They've hired the right "governmental affairs" man in Stephen Bradley.

These are not "cautionary tales." They are very real but we're still not listening...it always happens to someone else, somewhere else.

It's quite insidious and sinister in our opinion--the interweaving of political and corporate interests and how they systematically undermine the state and federal regulatory agencies responsibilities and influence them to put profit before people every time.

The consequences of these kinds of clandestine alliances must not continue to be ignored by any citizen and simply brushed off as nonsense and the ramblings of "environmentalist wackos."

Are you listening El Rushbo blowhardo?

US Senate Bill S510 The Food Modernization and Safety Act is Monsanto at work. They even want to place it under the watch of TSA twit "Big Sis."

Monsanto also does friendly "new image polishing" things like hiring Blackwater:
Agribusiness giant Monsanto, which genetically modifies plants to exude or tolerate pesticide or to produce nonviable seed, hired the services of the mercenary firm Blackwater to spy on activists, Jeremy Scahill reports.
A death-tech firm weds a hit squad.
This is no doubt in response to a decade of GM crop sabotage efforts around the globe.  Since the publicly-announced introduction of GM crops in 1996, concerned citizens have vandalized such crops every single year somewhere on the planet. Several thousand GM plants have been partially or wholly destroyed.
FOX "Kills" Monsanto Milk Story 

The stories linger: The cancer cluster up the hill. The guy who burned the soles off his boots while walking on Monsanto's landfill. The dog that died after a sip from Snow Creek, the long-abused drainage ditch that runs from the Monsanto plant through the heart of west Anniston's cinder-block cottages and shotgun houses. Sylvester Harris, 63, an undertaker who lived across the street from the plant, said he always thought he was burying too many young children.
"I knew something was wrong around here," he said.
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  1. Monsanto is pure evil.
    Anyone who represents them is pure evil.
    Anyone who defends them the same.
    Very disappointing SCJ Kagan.

  2. Agree with Kat and go a step further, very disappointing Mr. Obama.
    I've been somewhat distrustful of all the predictable radical talk, but now I'm not so sure anymore...

  3. This Bradley character sounds like a real sweetheart. Where's he live? In a tomb maybe or a nuclear waste site?

  4. They should just go ahead and flush the toilet on Alabama, Texas and Louisiana. Both of those states are so damn polluted it's a wonder anything can live in any of them.
    Monsanto is the worst company in the world, but last December Forbes magazine gave them big ups.
    It's so disheartening what is happening to us. Good to see there are some scrappers out in cyberspace that aren't afraid of these bastards.
    Enjoyed visiting this site, good stuff.

  5. Governor-elect Bentley is in way over his head and before it is all said and done he'll be more than a little sorry he took up with these characters, pardon me, MULES!
    I'm hoping for some future public frog marches myself. Bet I won't be disappointed either..we'll just wait and see.

  6. Evil personified.

  7. I'm stunned by what I'm reading and the video of the Fox reporters...this is powerful stuff and more than a little bit frightening.

  8. Max, another good 'un! And re Bradley, BARD spokesman, lobbyist, & PAC administrator, I just noticed a letter to the editor in response to a column you have cited in your blog: "Archibald's Column on Mark on Influence of Special Interests." Worth a read. http://blog.al.com/birmingham-news-commentary/2009/06/your_views_archibalds_column_o.html

    John Archibald's recent column on the influence of special-interest groups, specifically the Business Alliance for Responsible Development ("New mules keeping old kick alive," May 14), should be required reading in political science classes.

    Also, taxpayers and ratepayers should ask about the influence BARD and the businesses that ultimately joined the alliance had on at least these three issues: the Jefferson County Commission's support of the "supersewer"; the commission's vote to withdraw from the regional Storm Water Management Authority; and the Alabama Department of Transportation's selection of a disjointed route for the Northern Beltline.

    Supersewer? Property owned or managed by Drummond Co., Stonegate Realty and U.S. Steel were in line for the supersewer. Guess who contributed to county commissioners, various city council members and state and national officials?

    SWMA? BARD members contributed to Birmingham City Council members and Jefferson County commissioners and won their votes to withdraw from SWMA.

    Northern Beltline? BARD has lobbied hard for and contributed much to promote the disconnected route that would benefit large landowners and campaign contributors U.S. Steel and Drummond Co.

    Coincidence? I don't think so.

    Marilyn Solomon

  9. MARILYN--

    Very astute observations.

    We'll offer another similar quip from the Encyclopedia of Alabama Black Belt Big Mule Coalition:

    The Big Mules were a major force in the movement that changed Birmingham's city government from a commission system to a mayor‑council system. The move in part resulted from the massive negative publicity the city received when commission member and police commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor directed heavy force at civil rights demonstrators. This media coverage damaged business and endangered the social and economic well‑being of the city. The Big Mules recruited Boutwell to run for mayor and backed him financially; he was elected the city's first mayor under its new mayor/council form of government in 1963.

    The coalition blocked major economic and social change by constraining labor movements and disenfranchising African Americans and poor whites. It also prevented populist reforms such as railroad and utility regulation, statutory restrictions on the crop lien system, progressive taxation, quality public education, and legislative reapportionment from taking root in Alabama. In addition, the coalition used race as a wedge to forestall the state's economic have‑nots from joining forces against the Big Mules. These goals were accomplished through statute and through constitutional amendments.

    From this the "18 plus one rule" was born.

    We completely agree that the Big Mules tactics should be required reading for political science classes and we could think of a few more...

    Thanks for your insightful contribution!

  10. Some Bush links to Monsanto:

    James Connaughten, CEQ Chair
    Former Chief Lobbyist of GE during the Hudson River PCB Clean Up Negotiations. Response to EWG FOIA did not include communications between Connaughten and Monsanto lobbyists regarding Anniston. Included briefing paper EPA gave Senator Shelby.



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