January 11, 2002

Anniston, Alabama: In-Depth: Letter to Senator Shelby

January 10, 2002

The Honorable Richard Shelby
110 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Shelby:

Recent feature articles in The Washington Post, Birmingham News and St. Louis Post Dispatch have exposed the shocking details of decades of PCB contamination of the citizens of Anniston, Alabama. We will post on our web site, in a searchable format at www.ewg.org, many of the key internal company documents that reveal decades of corporate cover up, as reported in these articles.

The documents are particularly alarming when you compare the Anniston case to other places where PCB contamination has been treated as a major public health and environmental threat. Contamination in Anniston is estimated to be ten times higher than levels in the Hudson River of New York. Even though EPA, with the aggressive advocacy of New York's United States Senators, mandated General Electric (a former customer of Monsanto) last month to pay over $450 million for a dredging plan to clean up PCB contamination of the Hudson River, the Agency has refused to consider similar steps in Anniston. Monsanto's "voluntary" agreement with EPA has resulted in only a $40 million remediation program that does not adequately address the cleanup and public health concerns of the Anniston community.

This obvious disparity between EPA's concern for the people of Anniston and those living in Hudson River communities demands Congressional attention. Hearings on the Anniston case are needed to:

  1. determine why EPA failed to act for decades;
  2. review state and federal documents used to draft the current cleanup plan; and,
  3. hear independent analysis of what steps are necessary to clean up the contamination and protect public health.

Given your position as the state's senior Senator and your service on the Senate appropriation committee dealing with environment and public health issues, we call on you to press EPA to undertake an effective and comprehensive cleanup plan that ensures the people of Anniston an environmentally safe, healthy and vibrant community in the future.


Kenneth A. Cook
Environmental Working Group
Washington, DC

David A. Baker
Community Against Pollution
Anniston, Alabama

cc: The Honorable Jeff Sessions, United States Senator
The Honorable Bob Riley, Representative for the 3rd district of Alabama