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Trial Begins in Alleged PCB Poisoning Suit

January 10, 2002|From Associated Press

GADSDEN, Ala. — Claims that a chemical plant poisoned an Alabama community with PCBs for decades went to trial Wednesday.

The plaintiffs contend Monsanto Co. and spinoff Solutia Inc. let hazardous PCBs leak off a plant site in Anniston from 1929 to 1971, harming people's health and reducing property values to nearly nothing.

The government banned production of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, in the late 1970s.

The current trial involves claims of property devaluation and emotional distress by 16 people and one business. Trials over health claims will be heard later.

In opening statements, plaintiffs' lawyer Donald Stewart said company documents show executives knew PCBs were dangerous but did nothing to protect residents.

Monsanto attorney Jere White argued that none of the 16 plaintiffs is sick, and that there is no firm evidence linking PCBs to the conditions of residents who are ill.

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