Syngenta poisons the well

SUBHEAD: Nation’s largest private water utility joins lawsuit against herbicide maker Syngenta.

By Danielle Ivory on 24 March 2010 in Huffington Post Fund -  

Image above: Detail from movie poster for Woody Allen's "Don't Drink the Water" in 1969. From (

The nation’s largest private water utility company has joined a federal lawsuit that aims to force the manufacturer of atrazine, a widely-used herbicide, to pay for its removal from drinking water. As the Investigative Fund reported two weeks ago, the class action lawsuit was originally filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois by 16 cities in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and Iowa.

The communities are alleging that Swiss corporation Syngenta AG and its Delaware counterpart Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. made billions of dollars selling atrazine while local taxpayers were left “the ever-growing bill for filtering the toxic product from the public’s drinking water.”

American Water Company joined the lawsuit in five of those states yesterday, representing 28 additional Midwestern communities. A spokesman for American Water, Terry Mackin, said in a written statement that the company’s state subsidiaries are joining the case to recover past and future “costs of treating their raw water supplies for atrazine which they all have done in meeting or exceeding the federal and state drinking water standards.”

Syngenta spokesman Paul Minehart told the Investigative fund that the company had not yet been served with a federal lawsuit. He re-emphasized that “the EPA re-registered atrazine in 2006, stating it would cause no harm to the general population.”

We reported in a series of articles last fall that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to notify the public that the weed-killer had been found at levels above the federal safety limit in drinking water in at least four states.

The EPA recently announced that it would be undertaking a re-evaluation of the chemical’s potential to cause harm to humans and animals.

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