Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.
Iowa community sues atrazine maker for contaminated water
The City of Creston, along with 15 other communities in six Midwestern states, has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the maker of atrazine to force the company to pay for the chemical’s removal from local drinking water.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, alleges that Swiss corporation Syngenta AG and its Delaware-based subsidiary, Syngenta Crop Protection Inc., made billions in profit from the sale of atrazine while local taxpayers were left with the financial burden of filtering the chemical from drinking water.
Atrazine is a common agricultural herbicide in the United States but is banned in Europe because of its potentially dangerous effects, including interfering with the body’s hormonal activity and the development of reproductive organs.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has consistently maintained that the concentrations of atrazine measured in drinking water do not endanger public health.
The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., but with an office in Ames, declared Creston’s drinking water the most atrazine polluted in Iowa in a 2009 report.
A study last August by the Natural Resources Defense Council documented spikes in atrazine in the water supplies of Midwestern and Southern towns in agricultural areas, where the herbicide is applied to the vast majority of corn, sorghum and sugar cane fields.
The study included data from two Iowa watersheds — the Nishnabotna River in western Iowa, where 82 percent of samples taken contained atrazine, and Wolf Creek in Black Hawk and Grundy counties where 96 percent of samples taken contained atrazine. In Wolf Creek samples, the maximum peak atrazine concentration was 10 parts per billion (ppb), more than three times the EPA standard atrazine level for drinking water.
The study also looked at 12 public water systems in southern Iowa. The highest concentration of atrazine in raw water was found at the Winterset Water Treatment Plant in Madison County, where the maximum concentration was 47.5 ppb. This system serves approximately 4,768 people and uses water from Cedar Lake.
Stephen Tillery, the attorney representing the 16 cities, told the Huffington Post Investigative Fund that the plaintiffs have spent upwards of $350 million trying to filter atrazine from their drinking water. A Syngenta spokesman said the current levels of atrazine in drinking water are safe.
“What Syngenta can say is that EPA re-registered atrazine in 2006, stating it would cause no harm to the general population,” [Syngenta spokesman Paul Minehart] said. “In the current economy many organizations, including water systems, are looking for additional sources of revenue. It is not surprising that some water systems would say they cannot afford additional filtering but, for atrazine, there is no need.”