Coalition of Communities for Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice is our Goal

Anniston , Alabama

Anniston, AL

This small, low-income community is home to one of the most recognizable names in chemical production, Monsanto. From the late 1920s and early 1930s to the 1970s, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were produced at the Anniston Monsanto facility (Beiles, 2000). Civil claims have recently been filed by more than 3,000 citizens of Anniston against Monsanto for damages allegedly caused by releases of these PCBs into the areas air, lakes, rivers, and soil. These citizens allege that the company knew it was releasing PCBs into the atmosphere, knew the hazards that accompanied exposure to PCBs, and consequently, did nothing to stop the discharges and did not take the appropriate measures to protect those living in Anniston (Beiles, 2000). As it is suggested that Monsanto knew they were introducing PCBs into the environment, the citizens also allege that company officials attempted to conceal their environmental violations (Beiles, 2000).

 

 Although this environmental saga began over six decades ago, the real devastation caused by Monsanto only began to emerge within the last seven to eight years. Women cannot breastfeed due to PCB contamination in the population. The findings that have been unearthed during this time frame have undoubtedly left lasting scars on the souls of the residents of Anniston and will have lasting effects on future generations to come. The area immediately surrounding the Monsanto plant is predominately comprised of African-Americans and environmental injustices have definitely occurred in Aniston.

 

Cleanup

downtown Anniston, Alabama. The plant is bounded to the north by the Norfolk

Chemical cleanup

In 2002, a CBS 60 Minutes investigation [1]revealed Anniston had been among the most toxic cities in the country. The source of local contamination was a Monsanto chemical factory, which closed years ago. The [2] EPA site description reads in part:

The Anniston PCB site consists of residential, commercial, and public properties located in and around Anniston, Calhoun County, Alabama, that contain or may contain hazardous substances, including polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) impacted media. The Site is not listed on the NPL, but is considered to be a NPL-caliber site. Solutia Inc.'s Anniston plant encompasses approximately 70 acres of land and is located about 1 mile west of Southern and Erie railroads, to the east by Clydesdale Avenue, to the west by First Avenue, and to the south by U.S. Highway 202. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were produced at the plant from 1929 until 1971.

Anniston residents began class action suits against Monsanto. Monsanto Company for knowingly dumping PCBs in west Anniston. Many residents have yet to receive compensation as attorneys for Monsanto's offshoot, Solutia, continue to delay disbursements of damages.

The West Palm Beach TV station, WPTV, in July 2008 reported medical researchers are studying a potential link between PCBs and diabetes.[3]

An excerpt from the TV report:

Allen Silverstone, Ph.D., an immunologist at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., told Ivanhoe. 'Diabetes is one thing that can happen and that probably happens because these chemicals can affect glucose metabolism,' he said. The study found that residents of Anniston who live near the old plant had levels of PCBs that were four times greater than other people throughout the United States and had two to four times greater the risk of developing diabetes."

A portion of the remaining Fort McClellan, is used for Alabama National Guard training and the US Homeland Security anti-terrorism department. It houses the nation's only "live agent" training center which means military and emergency responder personnel from all over the world come to Fort McClellan to be trained in dealing with live agents and weapons in a real-time, monitored setting. These chemical weapons were stored for decades in a secured manner by the US Army. Anniston is one of nine areas in the US that housed such stockpiles. In 2003, the Anniston Army Depot began the process of destroying nerve agents it had stored over the years. The incinerator was built to destroy the chemical weapons stockpile of Sarin and VX nerve agent and mustard blister agent stored at the depot. The depot, along with associated defense contractors, is now Anniston's largest employer. Destruction of most of the stored munitions around Anniston has proceeded without incident and is expected to be completed by 2019.

 

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