Sauget area residents file more suits over PCB exposure

Kelly Holleran May 11, 2011, 3:12am



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

The four plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed April 21, the four plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Jan. 8 and the four plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Feb. 18 against Cerro Flow Products, Inc., Pharmacia Corporation, Solutia, Inc., Pfizer and Monsanto AG Products are the first, second and third groups of residents to file complaints against the companies this year.

In their complaint, 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 lawsuits 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 complaints, 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 complaints.

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 complaints.

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 complaint include negligence, wrongful death, strict liability, willful and wanton misconduct and battery.

In each of their seven-count suits, plaintiffs are seeking a judgment in excess of $300,000, plus punitive damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

All plaintiffs are represented by Richard L. Saville Jr., Ethan A. Flint, D. Todd Matthews and Andrew J. Balcer of Saville and Flint in Alton and by Lou Walters and Christian DiMartino of The Walters Law Firm in Kansas City.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case numbers: 11-L-189, 11-L-190, 11-L-191.

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