The Madison County Record Jun. 10, 2014, 5:03pm

Hundreds of plaintiffs who live in or near Sauget have filed nine separate lawsuits over the release of various hazardous substances they claim have created a severe health risk and have contaminated their properties.

The plaintiffs filed the nearly identical lawsuits in the St. Clair County Circuit Court against Cerro Flow Products Inc.

They are represented by Gregory A. Cade of Birmingham, Mark L. Rowe, Gary Anderson, Kevin Mckie and Christina E. Wall of Birmingham, Ala., Paul G. Schoen and Troy Walton of Schoen, Walton, Telken and Foster in East St. Louis, James L. “Larry” Wright of Austin, Christopher Cueto of the Law Office of Christopher Cueto in Belleville and Lloyd A. Cueto of the Law Office of Lloyd A. Cueto in Belleville.

In their complaints, the plaintiffs argue various sites have released various substances, including dioxins and furans, into the atmosphere for more than 80 years.

Some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit say they have developed cancer and other life-threatening diseases as a result of their exposure to these materials, which have been shown to result in toxic effects in the brain and nervous system and in low birth rates and birth defects.

Dioxins are unreasonably dangerous and are known to cause or contribute to significant health problems in both humans and animals, the suits say. In fact, the International Agency on Research for Cancer has classified 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro-p-dioxin as a Class I Known Human Carcinogen, the suits say.

Other plaintiffs in the complaints say the dioxins and other substances have damaged their property. For example, the chemicals released by the companies were discharged into surface waters, resulting in the contamination of soil and dust. They are also discharged into wastewater, causing water and soil to become contaminated, the suits claim.

Cerro, which owns land adjacent to the Monsanto Facility, recycles copper. Part of that work entails scrapping PCB transformers, draining wastewater and PCB oil into the Dead Creek and landfilling substances on its facility. In turn, those activities cause large quantities of the toxic substances to be released into the environment, according to the complaint.

Cerro’s alleged actions released deadly substances into the environment through smokestack emissions, wind erosion, smoke from fires in waste piles and airborne releases, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs say the defendants knew about the potential consequences of the chemicals’ releases, but attempted to conceal health risks and property contamination from the public.

Despite knowing its conduct was causing the release of huge amounts of carcinogenic substances into the environment in the affected area, Cerro continued to dispose of substances at the release sites, the complaints say.

Claims in the complaints include negligence, ultra-hazardous activity, nuisance, battery and trespass.

In each of the seven-count suits, the plaintiffs are seeking a judgment in excess of $800,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case numbers 14-L-353, 14-L-354, 14-L-357, 14-L-358, 14-L-359, 14-L-411, 14-L-412, 14-L-413 and 14-L-414.

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