Environmental Working Group
Chemical Industry Archives
home | what's new | the inside story | fact and fiction | about | search options | 

The Inside Story

»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
   




Poisoned By PCBs: Effects on Fish

Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 anniston's PCBs in the press

Presumably unbeknownst to anyone outside the company, Monsanto had secretly been conducting tests on fish downstream from the plant. In a letter dated March 25, 1969, Monsanto's Pollution Control Engineer from Anniston wrote to Monsanto HQ about the results of three biological studies conducted by outside contractors hired by Monsanto. The letter stated that "there are no fish or other aquatic life in Snow Creek" where the plant dumped all its waste:

Quoted Text
(view entire document)

In 1970, fish had been discovered in Choccolocco Creek, a few miles downstream from the Anniston plant, with more than 55 times the legal limit of PCBs set by the Alabama Department of Public Health. Even though the local waterways were heavily fished both commercially and recreationally, Monsanto took no steps to inform the public. Minutes of an August 1970 meeting indicate that "a proposed statement" had been drafted in case the word got out through other means, but even this was rejected in favor of "an innocuous, essentially 'no comment' type statement." (view entire document)

"Somehow," as this November 1970 "PR REPORT" describes, the Anniston Star (local newspaper) obtained figures from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that showed high levels of PCBs in fish in Choccolocco Creek. As this document describes, the company successfully averted negative attention by "convincing" the reporter to write a "factual" piece "emphasizing" that there was "no cause for public alarm." (view entire document)

By 1972, Monsanto knew definitively that high levels of PCBs were present in fish populations downstream from the plant. Biological Consultants, the firm Monsanto hired to study possible problems associated with the pollution, reported: (Stations 7, 8 and 10 are downstream from the plant)

Quoted Text
(view entire document)

Still the company made no effort to warn the public. It wasn't until 1992, when a fisherman reported catching deformed fish in Choccolocco Creek, that PCB contamination in the area's waterways became publicly known. In 1993 - 23 years after Monsanto's tests had found extremely high levels of PCBs in fish caught in Choccolocco Creek - the Alabama Department of Public Health issued the first fish consumption advisory warning people to avoid eating all fish caught in the area.

« prev page | next page »



last updated: march.27.2009

Home  |  What's New  |  The Inside Story  |  Fact and Fiction  |  About  |  Search  |  Contact  |  Donate  |  Site Index

The Chemical Industry Archives is a project of the Environmental Working Group.
Many documents in the archives require Adobe Acrobat reader (free download).