Gilbert lets Tillery amend atrazine case; Now alleges atrazine unsafe at any level

Steve Korris Sep. 16, 2011, 2:56am


BENTON – Stephen Tillery of St. Louis asks U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert to declare weed killer atrazine a defective product.

Tillery requested that and other far reaching declarations on Sept. 14, after Gilbert ruled he could amend a class action complaint against Syngenta Crop Protection.

Tillery asked Gilbert to declare atrazine harmful to human health so its presence at any level injures water supplies.

He asked him to declare that Syngenta sells atrazine with the intent that it physically invade water supplies and interfere with property rights in the water supplies.

He asked him to declare it reasonable for suppliers to choose to test for atrazine and completely remove it from the water they serve to the public.

He asked him to declare trespass and nuisance.

He offered an alternative declaration in case Gilbert upholds a federal standard setting atrazine's minimum contamination level at three parts per billion.

In that case, Tillery would ask Gilbert to declare, "State and federal regulators under the Safe Drinking Water Act require plaintiffs to distribute finished water that complies with the atrazine MCL of 3 ppb."

He would ask him to declare, "Often, and especially during the spring and summer months, the atrazine concentrations in plaintiffs' raw water exceeds 3 ppb."

He would ask him to declare, "Consequently, plaintiffs have to take steps to remove atrazine from their raw water so that their finished water complies with the MCL."

He added declaratory relief to prior counts seeking compensatory and punitive damages for trespass, public nuisance, product liability, and negligence.

In his new count, he wrote, "Syngenta's atrazine has contaminated plaintiffs' sources of raw water for many consecutive years.

"Though the atrazine concentrations in plaintiffs' water sources often fluctuate from month to month, week to week, and even day to day, each of the plaintiffs' water sources has had detectable atrazine contamination during this growing season.

"Plaintiffs cannot responsibly incur substantial additional treatment costs without knowing whether Syngenta will be required to compensate them for those costs.

"Plaintiffs face great uncertainty and need the court to declare their legal rights and Syngenta's legal obligations relating to future atrazine treatment costs.

"If the court finds that any level of atrazine in drinking water presents a risk to public health, plaintiffs want a determination that Syngenta will have to pay for the testing and removal of its atrazine from the water that plaintiffs serve to their customers."

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