New group of Sauget residents sue over toxic exposure

Kelly Holleran Feb. 25, 2010, 6:20am

Another group of Illinois residents who live in or near Sauget have filed a lawsuit over the release of various hazardous substances they claim have created a severe health risk that led to at least two people's deaths and have contaminated their properties.

The four plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Feb. 18 against Cerro Flow Products, Inc., Pharmacia Corporation, Solutia, Inc., Pfizer, Monsanto AG Products and Exxonmobil Oil Corporation are the first group of residents to file a complaint against the companies this year. In 2009, a total of 12 groups filed complaints against the companies.

The plaintiffs are represented by a new group of lawyers -- Richard L. Saville, Ethan A. Flint, D. Todd Mathews and Andrew J. Balcer of Saville and Flint in Alton.

In all 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 Feb. 18 lawsuit, filed in St. Clair County, say they or their deceased relatives developed cancer and other life-threatening 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Claims in the February complaint include negligence, wrongful death, strict liability, nuisance, battery and trespass.

In the seven-count suit, plaintiffs are seeking a judgment in excess of $300,000 and punitive damages that will deter the defendants from similar conduct, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number:10-L-188.

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