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Organic Consumers Association

Monsanto, Cousins Face Series of Lawsuits in Sauget, MO.

SAUGET - This village was born under the name "Monsanto" more than 80 years ago as a company town, where the chemical behemoth could hold sway over local taxes and regulations.

The smokestacks have gushed ever since.

Now, Andrea Brown, who has lived nearby her entire life, suspects the fumes from the village's variety of heavy industries caused her brain aneurysm and lung ailments.

"Look around," Brown, 39, said in an interview. "Everyone here looks old. These people are not that old, and they look as old as hell around here."

 Along with her mother and brother, Brown is working with a group of lawyers suing several companies that operated in Sauget, alleging that decades of dumping and burning caused health complications for people who live within two miles.

Seven civil lawsuits have been filed so far this year in St. Clair County Circuit Court that name four of the original Monsanto's corporate relatives - Pharmacia, Solutia, Pfizer and Monsanto AG Products. The suits allege environmental and health abuses involving the release of toxic PCBs and dioxins.

Cerro Flow Products also is named as a defendant for allegedly mishandling wastewater at its copper recycling facility in Sauget.

While the government has previously sued for cleanups in Sauget, these cases represent the first major private litigation seeking redress for cancer and other health complications, according to the lawyers involved.

One of those lawyers had previous battles with the companies that led to a big settlement in Alabama.

Bob Peirce, a spokesman for Monsanto, said the new lawsuits are just about money.

"The first lawsuit, which attempts to be certified as a class action, was filed in Illinois by a group of Alabama plaintiffs' lawyers seeking to enrich themselves by making unsupported allegations," Peirce said.

The lawsuits allege that the defendants knowingly "misled the public about the dangerous and hazardous nature" of the substances being released.


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