Alabamas Governor has taken the unusual step of asking EPA to withdraw from a proposed legal deal for cleaning up polychlorinated biphenyl pollution.
EPA in March proposed the settlement with Solutia to address contamination in Anniston, Ala. Solutia owns a former Monsanto plant there that made PCBs.
Gov. Donald Siegelman (D) says the planned deal between EPA and Solutia protects the powerful and connected corporation at the expense of citizens in that area. Siegelman argues in a July 24 letter to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman that the settlement would prevent an Alabama court from ordering Solutia and Pharmacia to clean up the remaining contamination and monitor the health of Anniston residents who live near the plant and have PCBs in their bodies.
Some 3,500 former and current Anniston residents are asking a state court to do just that, after a jury in February found the two companies, which are successors to Monsanto, liable.
Siegelman says, These companies must be held responsible not just for cleaning up the mess they have left, but also for continued health monitoring and health care if necessary in the future.
CONTAMINATED Alabama governor says EPA's cleanup plan for PCB-tainted areas in Anniston is unacceptable.
PHOTO BY CHERYL HOGUE
Under the proposed Superfund settlement with EPA, Solutia would evaluate the risks of the PCB contamination remaining in Anniston and then offer cleanup options. Residents and state officials were unhappy with the deal from the start, saying their interests werent represented. And they are angry that a day after the proposed Superfund agreement was announced, Solutias attorneys began to argue that the federal settlement would preempt the state court from ordering a cleanup.
Glenn S. Ruskin, a Solutia vice president, says the company remains committed to effective PCB remediation. The proposed consent decree with EPA remains the best means to get on with the cleanup in Anniston, he tells C&EN.
EPA had no comment on Siegelmans letter.