June 18, 2003

Monsanto in Alabama: Timeline of Events

January 2


EPA letter [View document] to Monsanto details the Agency’s wish list for action in Anniston, marking the beginning of a year-long negotiation process between EPA and the company. No representatives from the Anniston community were invited to participate in these secretive negotiations.



January 1

Story breaks about Monsanto’s PCB history in Anniston

January 9

Trial begins in Abernathy v. Monsanto CV-2001-832 (now called Bowie v. Monsanto), Etowah County Circuit Court

February 22

Jury returns verdict against Monsanto establishing liability on all six counts, including negligence, wantonness, nuisance, suppression of the truth, trespass and outrage. Outrage is a rarely successful tort claim that under Alabama law describes conduct “so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society.”

February 25

The State of Alabama and four other municipalities join the Bowie v. Monsanto trial as plaintiffs.

March 6

Administrator Whitman receives a scheduled 45-minute briefing from EPA staff about “the Anniston PCB Site.” The scheduling memo states under “Genesis”: “You [Whitman] requested this briefing.” The date and nature of, and reason for, Whitman’s request, have not been made public. Eleven (11) EPA employees are listed as attendees, including Region IV staff publicly identified as involved in the development of the Anniston Consent Decree, and an unnamed “DOJ representative.” The “Overview” of the meeting says only: “Provide background information on the Anniston PCB Site.” Attachments listed for the scheduling memo include “Briefing document,” “Congressional inquiry,” and “Recent articles.”

March 13

Draft Consent Decree changes dramatically from earlier versions. US EPA assumes control from the State at the site of the cleanup and the site definition changes.

March 15


During cross examination in the Bowie v. Monsanto trial, a Monsanto witness admits to the existence of the partial consent decree that the company had been working out with EPA.


March 25

Anniston Partial Consent Decree is formally announced with a joint press release from the Washington Offices of DOJ and EPA.

April 4

Partial Consent Decree published in the Federal Register.

April 5

EWG files its first FOIA asking EPA for records of meetings or other communications with Monsanto and the other defendants in the state trial.

April 8

Marianne Horinko, EPA Assistant Administrator of the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, said that the reason the Anniston site was not listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) as part of the pollution agreement was because "the PRP [Monsanto] didn't want it." [View document]

April 19

Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) hold a hearing in the VA/HUD Appropriations Subcommittee (which funds EPA) seeking information about how the Anniston Partial Consent Decree was constructed and negotiated.

April 19

Senator Mikulski Letter to EPA Administrator Whitman asking for details about the construction and negotiation of the Anniston Partial Consent Decree.

May 29

Whitman Response Letter to Mikulski asserts that the Consent Decree was put together following “typical” and “routine” Superfund procedure. Whitman asserts that “EPA regional attorneys, technical staff and Department of Justice attorneys applied standard Superfund policies in negotiating the recently lodged Anniston Consent Decree. Routinely at Superfund sites, EPA regional attorneys and technical staff draft and negotiate agreements with responsible parties to have them undertake necessary response actions with EPA oversight. EPA front-line and mid-level regional management review, comment, and approve Superfund agreements. The authority to approve the commencement of a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS), like the one embodied in the lodged Anniston Consent Decree, is officially delegated to the regional branch chief level.”

June 3

End of the Public Comment Period for the Partial Consent Decree.

October 28

Revised Partial Consent Decree published by EPA.


Revised Partial Consent Decree lodged in federal district court in the Northern District of Alabama.


January 17

DOJ attorney calls Janet MacGillivray of the nonprofit environmental organization Riverkeeper and tries to dissuade her from testifying at the Anniston hearing. [View document]

January 21

Hearing held in Anniston, Alabama about the approval of the Anniston Consent Decree.

January 27

Federal court hearing held in Northern District of Alabama concerning the Revised Partial Consent Decree.

May 15

Administrator Whitman awards DOJ attorney who pressured Ms. MacGillivray not to testify and the entire Region IV PCB team the "Gold Medal Award" for outstanding service to EPA. [View document]