Second suit filed over Sauget pollution

Kelly Holleran Jun. 11, 2009, 6:52am

Schoen, Walton, Telken and Foster in East St. Louis

A second group of Illinois residents who live in or near Sauget have filed a lawsuit over the release of various hazardous substances they claim has created a severe health risk and has contaminated their properties.

The 21 plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed June 5 against Cerro Flow Products, Inc., Pharmacia Corporation, Solutia, Inc., Pfizer and Monsanto AG Products are the second group of residents to file a complaint against the companies this year. The first was a class action lawsuit filed in February and is nearly identical to the June 5 complaint.

In both complaints, plaintiffs argue that three release sites - a 90-acre landfill operated by Sauget and Co., a 314-acre W.G. Krummrich Plant and property owned by Cerro Flow Products - have released PCBs and other various substances, including dioxins and furans, into the atmosphere for more than 70 years.

Plaintiffs in the June 5 lawsuit say they have developed cancer and other deadly diseases as a result of their exposure to the PCBs, which have been shown to result in toxic effects in the brain and nervous system and in low birth rates and birth defects.

"According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a lifetime dose of one milligram of PCBs is sufficient to cause cancer and other serious and life-threatening diseases," the suit filed Feb. 10 in St. Clair County Circuit Court states. "According to the World Health Organization, there is not safe level of exposure to PCBs."

Dioxins and furans, which were also released at the site, are also known to be dangerous and to create significant health problems through inhalation, ingestion, dermal absorption and ingestion of homegrown produce.

In addition to the health risk, the residents claim the PCBs have contaminated property within a two-mile radius of the release sites, waterways and groundwater, the suit states.

The releases began after the W.G. Krummrich Plant, which is also referred to as the Monsanto Facility in the complaint, began producing, storing and disposing PCBs at its facility, the residents claim.

In fact, "more PCBs were produced at the Monsanto Facility than at any other site in the United States, and perhaps even the free world," the suit states.

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.

At Sauget and Co., millions of tons of the toxic substances were disposed of in its landfill, residents allege.

The combined activities of the three companies released the deadly substances into the environment through smokestack emissions, wind erosion, smoke from fires in waste piles and airborne releases, according to the complaint.

Claims in the June 5 complaint include negligence, strict liability, nuisance and battery.

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

They are represented by the same group of lawyers who filed the February complaint -- Robert Leslie Palmer, Gregory A. Cade, H. Gregory Harp, Christina E. Wall and Mark L. Rowe, of Birmingham, Ala; Paul G. Schoen of Schoen, Walton, Telken and Foster in East St. Louis and James L. "Larry" Wright of Austin.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-295.

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