The latest Fort McClellan news articles. This page will be updated with more Fort McClellan news articles as they appear.
Stonewalled veteran files lawsuit against DOD, DOJ, and EPA (Breitbart News)
September 1, 2015
A veteran who previously spoke to Breitbart News about being stonewalled by the Department of Defense on his Freedom of Information Act requests has now filed a lawsuit to get information about toxic contamination at Fort McClellan, by which hundreds of thousands of veterans may have been exposed. Raymond Pulliam – a 53-year-old veteran – had to retire in 2012 due to health issues that he thinks were caused by toxic chemicals he was exposed to during his basic training at Fort McClellan in Alabama. As Breitbart News previously reported, Pulliam “has sought information about Fort McClellan’s chemical contamination from the Department of Defense since last year, but his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has gone unanswered.” According to the complaint, Pulliam, the Plaintiff, is suing the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Department of Justice “in failing to provide Plaintiff with all non-exempt records responsive to his FOIA requests sent to each of these federal agencies, seeking records regarding their investigation into toxic contamination at former U.S. Army base Fort McClellan.” Pulliam’s case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia last week and was assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson. “As I stated during my interview for the previous story, I am very frustrated with the tactics used by the DoD, DoJ and EPA to try and do everything in their power not to release the information I am requesting,” Pulliam exclusively told Breitbart News in an emailed statement. “Prior to the FOIA’s submitted to the DoD, DoJ and EPA I have done several prior FOIA requests to the Army and EPA. Each of those FOIA’s have been resolved in a timely manner,” he explained.
MP veterans return for tour of Fort McClellan (Anniston Star)
June 13, 2015
Eight former military police officers arrived at the parking lot of McClellan’s Building 63, the old Provost Marshal Administration, Saturday to take a tour of their old stomping grounds. The paint on the building is peeling and the parking lot is slowly being broken up by the weeds that have managed to push their way through the asphalt. Both are signs of the decay that has taken over some of the places that have not been re-appropriated for some other use. But the ‘“ for sale” sign in front of the building and the neatly trimmed yards on Buckner Circle are signs of the redevelopment taking place. The mixed results of the redevelopment led some of the tour attendees to shake their heads in dismay as they asked about the places they used to frequent at the fort. The old airstrip is now a landfill, tour leader Bruce Greene said in answer to their questions. Riley Lake is now overgrown and unreachable, he said. But the old MP Company building is still there, he said. Greene, who served on the base in 1974 and 1975 then again in 1979 until the base closed in 1999, said he was leading the tour basically because he’d “been her a long time.” Now the assistant director of the Operations Center for Domestic Preparedness, which is on the former Army fort, Greene was around during the base’s heyday and has watched its slow redevelopment. The area where the veterans gathered is part of The Hill and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The residences that surround it all look the same as they did when it was still an active base. A new house built there was designed with the same look, so it would fit in, Greene told the veterans gathered for the tour.
Fort McClellan veterans soldier on (StreetRoots.org)
March 27, 2015
Thousands of veterans who trained at Fort McClellan say contamination at the military base caused them to become seriously ill. For more than a decade they’ve demanded the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acknowledge the source of their sicknesses and approve their exposure-related benefits claims. The VA recently sat down with a Fort McClellan veteran to actively listen to their allegations for the first time, ending what veterans have called an enduring “systematic lockout.” As previously reported veterans in Portland and across the United States claim they suffer from an array of strikingly similar health problems including cancer, brain tumors, reproductive disorders and fibromyalgia, as the result of exposure to contamination during their training at Fort McClellan near Anniston, Ala. An estimated 600,000 veterans have served at the base since 1935, but VA spokesman Randy Noller says the VA has no way of knowing how many are still alive, nor how many Fort McClellan veterans have filed claims alleging toxic exposure. The fort closed in 1999 – nine years after the Environmental Protection Agency declared the area a Superfund site (the agency’s designation for the country’s most toxic sites in need of cleanup). In the years that followed, thousands of veterans reported health problems they believe are connected to the contamination. Partially responsible for contamination in the area is Monsanto, which produced PCBs in nearby Anniston for decades. According to both veterans’ activists and VA officials, Monsanto’s smokestacks were malfunctioning from 1969 to 1971 and PCBs spewed into the air, blanketing the area with toxic particles. Monsanto settled with the residents of Anniston for $700 million in 2003. Veterans say PCBs landed on the base, but VA says they did not, and that if soldiers were affected, it was due to time spent in the adjacent town of Anniston – meaning the VA is not liable.
VA agrees to inform McClellan soldiers of hazards (WTMJ-Milwaukee)
March 12, 2015
The Veterans Administration will begin sharing information about possible toxic exposure for soldiers stationed at Fort McClellan, Ala., a spokesman said. In a statement, the VA confirmed a February meeting between former Fort McClellan veterans and government officials. Fort McClellan was shuttered in 1999. It has also been declared a federal Superfund cleanup site. As the home of the Army’s chemical warfare school, McClellan may have exposed soldiers to toxic substances. “As a result of this meeting, the VA’s Office of Public Health is updating its website to include more information for Veterans and Servicemembers on potential environmental hazards at Fort McClellan,” the statement read. “We intend to follow up in the near future for additional discussions.” The I-Team has spoken with a number of veterans who were trained at Fort McClellan and now report strange and debilitating illnesses. Those veterans did not know about a possible link between their illnesses and their service until word began to spread on social media.
Toxic legacy: Veterans fear illnesses linked to Fort McClellan (WTMJ-Milwaukee)
February 10, 2015
To visit Fort McClellan, Alabama is to visit a ghost town. After 81 years training millions of soldiers, the Army base was mothballed in 1999. Though Fort McClellan is still very present in the life of Donald Hayden. “I have arthritis in my right shoulder, my knees, I have degenerative disc disorder in my back, I have fibromyalgia,” he said. Hayden spent only four months there in 1987, but fears that time will haunt him until it kills him. “I was a young guy, and I was going to doctors and I would be the only young person in the room,” Hayden said. AnnaMaria Bliven was at Fort McClellan twice — in 1978 and 1980. She, too, fears her time there is killing her. “I had three miscarriages, my son has mental health issues, I’ve had female issues, and now I’m dealing with thyroid cancer,” Bliven said. From World War II until it closed, Fort McClellan was home to the Army chemical warfare school. It spent decades steeped in the toxic agents of battle. Today, it is off limits and a federal Superfund site.The Fort McClellan Health Registry Act, which has been introduced in Congress in previous sessions and will be reintroduced again this year, and would force the defense department to inform veterans of possible toxic exposure and begin screening them for problems. Supporters say the bill failed because the defense department opposes it. One DOD staffer e-mailed the bill’s key sponsor it “would generate a significant financial and resource burden upon the Army.”
Veterans hold ‘Trail of Toxicity’ march in D.C. over Fort McClellan-linked health issues (The Washington Times)
January 19, 2015
Roughly a dozen veterans — half of them with canes — marched from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the White House Saturday morning. They want the government to create a health registry for veterans who served at Fort McClellan prior to its closing in 1999 due to toxic contaminants. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., proposed the Fort McClellan Health Registry Act to assist veterans previously stationed there. Many of the men seek help for health problems possibly linked with the toxic chemicals once kept on the Army post. The group included Sal Caiozzo of Poisoned Veterans and Stephen Fails of Battled Proven Foundation — both leading the cause to spread awareness about the toxic exposure at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama. Chanting, “Sent me to a poison land, toxic water air and sand. Now we’re dying everyday — with zero help from VA,” — the group said veterans deserve to know why they might have health problems, including cancer and Multiple Sclerosis, caused by the contamination they were exposed to during their time at Fort McClellan. The Army Chemical School, where training occurred for live chemical weapons, was located at Fort McClellan. The Environmental Protection Agency shuttered the Army post in 1999 and listed it as a high-priority Superfund cleanup site. EPA documents say its operations “generated solid and liquid wastes that contaminated soil and ground water.”
Email puts Pentagon budget concerns ahead of Fort McClellan veterans’ welfare (The Washington Times)
January 12, 2015
Putting budget concerns ahead of troop welfare, a top Obama administration appointee declared to Congress that the Pentagon doesn’t want to spend the money to alert hundreds of thousands of soldiers who served at a once-contaminated Army base that they may have been exposed to toxins. “The cost of attempting to identify all these individuals, including the cost of media advertising, would be a significant burden on the Army’s budget and at a time when the Army is furloughing personnel due to a shortage of funds,” Elizabeth King, the Pentagon’s top liaison to Congress, wrote in an internal email to a House staffer in 2013. The email, obtained and authenticated by The Washington Times, was written in response to unsuccessful efforts by Rep. Paul Tonko, New York Democrat, to get legislation passed in the last Congress that would require notification to veterans who were stationed at Fort McClellan, in Anniston, Alabama, before it was closed for widespread contamination 15 years ago. Pentagon officials declined to address Ms. King’s email, except to say that it was meant to be a quick private communication to a congressional staffer and never intended for public disclosure. They also confirmed that the Defense Department doesn’t know how many soldiers served at Fort McClellan during the years it was being contaminated by chemical weapons or a nearby chemical plant. Mr. Tonko said it is time for the Defense Department and lawmakers to do what is right by informing veterans of their possible exposure and offering them health solutions, regardless of the costs.
Sick McClellan veterans fighting for help (WBMA-ABC)
October 27, 2014
They were willing to sacrifice their lives for freedom. But dozens of veterans once stationed at Fort McClellan say they didn’t agree to become held captive by sickness. They blame exposure to chemicals at McClellan for their illnesses and want help. David Land collects broken watches. “I make them all better again,” he said showing a recently repaired watched. But the retired Army veteran can’t fix himself. “I didn’t know I’d have to be fighting what was underground. You cry sometimes, pray a lot and then sometimes get mad,” he said. Land grew up and lived on Fort McClellan. He then worked on the base from 1979 to 1999. He was later diagnosed with stiff-man syndrome. The rare neurological disorder has left him struggling to walk and in pain. As he explained his disease, the pain would often cause him to pause. But he’d said, “I’m okay” and continue. Pictures in his Anniston home remind him of when he says life was better before cancer claimed his mother’s life and made his father, brother and wife sick. His other siblings also have neurological disorders. Everyone of them lived on McClellan, which Land says they also blame for their illnesses More than five thousand McClellan veterans have banded together on Facebook.Many are talking about similar illnesses. Vets say doctors haven’t linked the illness to McClellan. However, when asked if he believed his illness was related to McClellan, Land replied, “yeah, I do. I do.
Monsanto’s leftover chemicals poisoning Fort McClellan (NaturalSociety.com)
October 25, 2014
Commentary: “It is well-circulated news that between 1935 and 1999, Fort McClellan was a toxic chemical waste dump. Along with being the former home of the U.S. Army Military Police and U.S. Army Chemical Schools, it was once shut down by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nearly 500,000 men were trained there for WWII, and thousands more men and women have stayed there since its re-opening. In recent years, Veterans have started blowing the whistle on Monsanto, as they believe the company is responsible for the mass poisoning of service members at the site. The veterans suspected that PCBs were being released by Monsanto. For decades, the biotech and seed company, also a former military contractor for bioweapons, dumped tons of the chemicals around Anniston, Alabama, where the base is located. The controversy culminated in 2003 in a $700 million settlement with residents, but the problems persist. Some service members are now reporting higher incidence of children born with birth defects. It should be no surprise that Monsanto would attempt to poison our own military, and if not done intentionally, then instead with enough haphazardness that they should be sued in international courts for bio-terrorism and gross negligence.”
End of explosive cleanup at old Fort McClellan (WBRC-Birmingham)
October 16, 2014
Congressman Mike Rogers and Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey push the button the first time. Symbolic booms, for the last of the unexploded ordnance cleanup at the old Fort McClellan. For 15 years, buried munitions like these had to be found, identified, and destroyed, so the base could be re-developed. “They had to be disposed of, usually through what we call a “blow in place.” And the bottom line is, it was done with zero explosives incidents over an eleven year period,” Robin Scott said. Mayor Vaughn Stewart and State Senator Del Marsh push the second button. But don’t expect to see the “Danger” signs come down anytime soon. The contractors still have to clean up unexploded ordnance that’s in a nearby wildlife refuge. Former Mayor Chip Howell, who helped oversee the beginning of the cleanup, was invited back to see the end. And it follows the disposal of chemical weapons, and the cleanup of PCBs from the Monsanto plant. “That’s behind us, we’re one of the cleanest places in the state, one of the cleanest places in the nation. Lot of communities in this country don’t realize the issues that they have yet,” Chip Howell said.
Cleanup continues at Fort McClellan to pave way for future development (WVTM-Birmingham)
October 14, 2014
A big boom could be heard over Northeast Alabama this morning, which signaled the end of the first phase of major clean-up efforts at an old Army base. The former Fort McClellan Army Base, which officially closed in 1999, is located in Anniston. After eleven years, the McClellan Development Authority has finished part of its clean-up efforts. The group has removed explosives from the property by clearing more than 2,000 acres of land. There are redevelopment efforts that still need to completed, including environmental cleanup. The goal is use the property for industrial, commercial, residential and recreational expansion. Cleanup teams destroyed more than 14,000 explosives and more than 2.9 million pounds of explosive-related scrap.
Sick veterans who served at shuttered, toxic Army base turn to Congress, VA for help (Fox News)
September 22, 2014
Sue Frasier spent the first six months of her military career at Alabama’s Fort McClellan. But that short stint — 44 years ago at an Army base the EPA later would find so toxic it would shut it down — was all it took for her to start getting sick, she says. Her problems began shortly after completing boot camp in 1970 at the Anniston, Ala., base. Today, she says she’s coping with asthma, a life-threatening gastrointestinal disease that required surgery, and fibromyalgia that results in long-term pain and tenderness in her joints and muscles. Frasier is among thousands of veterans who were stationed at the former Army base who believe they were exposed to dangerous polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. They repeatedly have turned to the Department of Veterans Affairs for help, seeking aid for medical treatment and a formal study of their ailments — but say their pleas have been largely ignored or buried in red tape for decades. Today, they’re looking to fresh leadership at the VA, and allies in Congress, to finally take on their case.
Fort McClellan Health Act: The health hazards of PCBs (Fox News)
September 19, 2014
Until it was shut down by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Fort McClellan Army base in Anniston, Alabama, among its many functions, served as a site for the Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Corps. But one function which remained constant throughout its tenure was the housing and disposal of chemical weapons. In 1999, the EPA closed the base, labeling it a hazardous site due to chemical waste which had leached into the ground, contaminating the soil and water supply. Unfortunately for residents and soldiers who were already exposed to toxic chemicals at the base, Fort McClellan wasn’t the only toxic dumping ground in the town of Anniston. For decades, Monsanto, the agrochemical company responsible for manufacturing herbicide and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) found in food, had been contaminating the area with toxins, including polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. In 2003, residents successfully sued chemical giant, however, veterans who were based at Fort McClellan were prevented from joining this lawsuit. A bill introduced in 2013 called the Fort McClellan Health Act sought to create a registry for veterans stationed at the base to help them get coverage for health issues stemming from their exposure to toxins, and open up disability payments. However, the bill was referred to a committee where it has yet to advance. PCBs are man-made chemicals that were manufactured in the town of Anniston from 1929 until mid-1972. The contamination infiltrated bodies of water, land and air. “Most of the PCB contamination all around, especially on the east coast, comes from [Anniston,]” Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany, told FoxNews.com. “The fact is, people living anywhere near the plant have significantly higher levels [of PCB] in their bodies than the average person in the U.S.”
Group seeks health registry for Fort McClellan soldiers (The Anniston Star)
June 21, 2014
After Diane Zumatto finished her basic training at Fort McClellan in 1976, she completed her enlisted service and started a family in Thurston County, Wash. In 1984, Zumatto’s first daughter was born with hip dysplasia, a congenital misalignment of the hip joint. She has long wondered if it’s connected to her service at the post. Zumatto hopes the federal government will set up a registry to track the health issues of troops who spent time at the base. “I don’t know if any exposure to anything at Fort McClellan caused it, which is why we need some kind of registry to chart those who have been through,” she said. Zumatto is part of a far-flung network of former Fort McClellan soldiers who are alarmed by stories of pollution both on and off base in Anniston. The campaign has drawn in lawmakers from across the country, but hasn’t stirred local politicians. “The first step is to identify service-connected illnesses McClellan vets may have received during their time of service,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. “We have more questions than answers at this point, which makes a registry necessary so that the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs can determine if care is necessary.” Tonko is the primary sponsor of H.R. 411, also known as the Fort McClellan Health Registry Act. The bill would require a database be made of all soldiers who came through Fort McClellan from Jan. 1, 1935, to May 20, 1999. Also, all living parties would be notified that they may have been exposed to toxins, including polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.
UAB, CDC want more PCB tests for Anniston residents (WBMA-Birmingham)
June 9, 2014
Polychlorinated Biphenyls, known as PCB, has been a major concern for Anniston residents. That’s why dozens participated in a follow up health study Thursday night at Anniston hall. Researchers from UAB and the CDC answered questions. This comes after a previous study where nearly 800 Anniston residents were tested, in which some found levels of PCBs in their blood. That study found associations between PCBs and health measures such as blood pressure and diabetes in some of the groups. UAB professor/PhD Stephen Mennemeyer wants more tests. “We want to see how that is progressing over time, by coming back and doing a second study on the people who gave us their blood the first time,” says Mennemeyer. He says scientists are still trying to figure out how PCBs can affect the human body, and says PCB’s were widely used in manufacturing years ago as a refrigerant device for protecting various types of industrial equipment. He says the new study will focus on how Anniston residents PCB levels have changed over time, and how the changes could be affected with health outcomes. The CDC will test their blood for dioxins, other chemicals and heavy metals that were not in the first study. In just two weeks, UAB and the CDC will be asking people to come in to get another blood sample from them which will be used for analysis. Mennemeyer says those results can take months.
Voices of Fort McClellan vets silenced by DC gridlock (The Hill)
June 9, 2014
Commentary by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.): In the wake of disturbing results from investigations into the Department of Veterans Affairs and the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki, Congress must recognize and act upon problems forgotten groups of veterans across the nation suffer every day, many of which don’t receive the care or attention they deserve. Many of us know veterans and active duty members. They are brothers, mothers, best friends, the person in the mirror and so many more. When these service members entered the service, they didn’t do so for the benefits promised or some get rich quick scheme. American veterans signed up and wore the uniform under a sense of duty and desire to keep our nation safe. These are the last people members of Congress should break our country’s promises with. Yet, that is what is happening to an unknown number of Americans who served at Fort McClellan in Alabama for decades. For years, a growing number of those who served at Fort McClellan in Alabama have reported crippling health problems. Those suffering report a range of afflictions including asthma, autoimmune disorders, and fibromyalgia. McClellan was one of our primary chemical and biological training centers for years, and many veterans and their families are questioning if their illnesses are service connected. We can find the answers to the questions these veterans and their families have by passing H.R. 411, the Fort McClellan Health Registry Act, which would establish a health registry of veterans who were stationed at McClellan. By gathering this important data, we can begin the process of definitively determining whether service time at Fort McClellan made our soldiers ill. I have introduced this legislation each Congress dating back to 2009, when a constituent who served at McClellan brought this critical issue to my attention. This is our third attempt at getting the bill passed and today it enjoys the largest bipartisan support it has ever seen.
Local veterans say Army base is toxic, made them sick (WSB-Atlanta)
May 5, 2014
A Channel 2 Investigation discovered a growing number of local veterans who claim exposure to toxic chemicals at a nearby U.S. Army base has made them sick. Investigative reporter Aaron Diamant and producer Patti DiVincenzo have spent months digging into this issue. The deeper they got, the more troubling it got. Countless former soldiers battling all kinds of very serious health problems are coming forward. They all served their country on the same base, and they all say it’s time for their country step up. “I’m going to fight. I’m going to fight with everything I have,” promised former Army MP Lisa Hill. “The physician came out crying and said that, in front of my children as well, that I had 3-C colon cancer.” Hill told Diamant the diagnosis was devastating. “At first there was kind of that crushing, crushing feeling as a family,” Hill recalled before breaking down in tears. As the treatment takes its toll, Hill, now a Cobb County nurse, seems convinced the Army base where she served decades ago made her sick. “That’s my purpose, to get it out there,” Hill said. From 1935 until it closed in 1999, tens of thousands of soldiers cycled through Ft. McClellan, outside Anniston, Alabama — about 90 miles west of Atlanta. The base was home to the Army’s Women’s Corps, military police school and Chemical Corps. It’s where the military conducted chemical and biological training, and ran chemical weapons tests. Hill is just one of a fast growing number of former soldiers who have come forward claiming exposure to toxic chemicals on the base has caused not just cancer, but other horrible health problems. “We see so much death, so much sickness,” said David Baker, a community activist in Anniston.
Fort McClellan cleanup receives $56 million (WIAT-Birmingham)
April 24, 2014
The group steering the clean-up effort at an old Army fort in Alabama has received $56 million to complete the task. The Anniston Star reported that the money will pay for the removal of unexploded ordnance and stray bullets and environmental cleanup and monitoring at the old Fort McClellan, located about 10 miles northeast of Anniston. McClellan Development Authority Executive Director Robin Scott says cleanup crews will remove the last of the unexploded ordnance by the end of the year, freeing up land for development projects. The funding was approved about two weeks ago by the U.S. Army.
Toxic Vets: The poisonous legacy of Fort McClellan (ChicagoNow.com)
August 7, 2013
Ft. McClellan Alabama no longer exists as an Army base, at least not officially. In 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency shut down the base, labeling it a hazardous site. The area is so toxic that it is illegal to sink a well in the surrounding communities. Even though the base no longer houses military personnel, portions of the site are still used as a training facility and as a depot. The training conducted there is by various entities, including local, state and federal agencies. I wonder if they issue warnings about the site before candidates or employees are sent there, or if they, like the tens of thousands of veterans who once called Ft. McClellan home, get to find out about the contamination through word of mouth. Next to Ft. McClellan is a small town called Anniston, Alabama. Even if you never heard of the base, the name of the community may ring a bell. In 2003, chemical giant Monsanto settled a case with more than 20,000 residents of the town for $700 million dollars. The suit alleged the company, now operating locally as Solutia, contaminated the water, soil and air so thoroughly and so recklessly with PCB’s and other toxins for decades, 60 Minutes and others have called the area the most toxic place on the planet. One of the others making that claim is the EPA, which has listed the community at the top of its Superfund Sites in need of cleanup.
Former Fort McClellan commander remembered as down-to-earth leader (Stars & Stripes)
July 6, 2013
Although Maj. Gen. Charles A. Hines rose to the top of his professions as an accomplished military officer, administrator and academic, those who knew him remember him as a down-to-earth leader who was willing to work hard “in the trenches” to make change happen. The former commander of Fort McClellan died in Texas after suffering a heart attack. He was 77. When Hines took command of Fort McClellan in July 1989, he became the first black commander of a military installation in the South. Mike Abrams was a public relations officer at Fort McClellan when Hines took command and remembers him as having a knack for living up to people’s idea about what a general should be. Abrams said when he thinks of an Army general, he thinks of people who have “great personalities, and by virtue of those personalities, are natural-born leaders.” “People want to follow leaders like General Hines,” he said. Abrams noted that Hines was an enlisted man before becoming an officer, working his way up through the ranks, something Abrams said required a great deal of hard work and dedication. “His personal drive was something that served him and us well over the years,” Abrams said. “Who he was was good for us as a community and as a fort at the time.” In 1991, Gov. Guy Hunt awarded Hines the Distinguished Service Medal for his contributions to the Alabama National Guard at Fort McClellan.
18 Alabama Superfund cleanup sites included on EPA’s monitoring list (AL.com)
March 22, 2013
Alabama is no stranger to chemical spills and government-monitored cleanups. In fact, the state currently has 18 sites on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund cleanup map. Once a spill is reported, the EPA is charged with inspecting the suspected spill site, devising a cleanup plan and monitoring that ongoing plan so as to protect people and resources near the site. Included on the EPA’s list is the Anniston PCB site, which consists of the entire area in and around Anniston, where polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have come to be located. The EPA is overseeing the ongoing cleanup of commercial, industrial and residential properties as well as floodplain soils. Over 570 properties have been cleaned up. Also on the list is the Anniston Army Depot, an active U.S. Army installation. The installation provides munitions storage and refurbishment, testing and decommissioning of combat vehicles and various types of ordnance. In the past, operations at the Depot generated solid and liquid wastes that contaminated soil and ground water.
Fort McClellan: More toxic than Camp Lejeune? (VeteransUnited.com)
September 16, 2012
Fort McClellan is the former home of the U.S. Army Military Police and U.S. Army Chemical Schools. Located in Anniston, Ala., it was one of the largest training posts the Army had to offer before the Environmental Protection Agency closed the fort down in 1999. Nearly 500,000 men were trained there during WWII, and hundreds of thousands of others used this installation to hone their military skills during the post’s 82-year history. Countless brave men and women spilled blood, sweat and tears over the training grounds. Everyone lived in close quarters and prepared for combat abroad — much like any other fort. But throughout the fort’s long run, there was a dark secret that nobody — save a chemical company — knew about. Between 1933 and 1999, Fort McClellan was constantly exposed to major biochemical health hazards, including ionizing radiation and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Think about that for a second. The people living at or around Fort McClellan were soaking up PCBs and other caustic chemicals through the air, water, soil and wildlife, all over a 66-year span. Soldiers were laying in them on the firing range, they filled their canteens with them during “hydration formations,” and they breathed them in while they ran “Cardiac Hill.” And they never suspected a thing.
Did Army service make them ill? (Albany Times Union)
March 22, 2011
Female veterans of Fort McClellan in Alabama are questioning whether their serious health problems are related to the time they spent there after learning that the Army base was contaminated with harmful chemical. Linda Geser and Paula Hebert, who live doors apart in Troy’s John F. Kennedy Towers, completed basic training at the Anniston, Ala., base during the Vietnam War. The sprawling facility hosted the Women’s Army Corps School, Military Police School and Chemical Corps, and served as the military’s primary chemical and biological training center before closing in 1999. Hebert, 61, left Troy for Fort McClellan in 1968 and served in the Army for three years. Geser, 56, trained at the base in 1973, and worked as a soldier for almost two years. Years later, both struggle with unexplained and worsening neurological problems. Hebert started experiencing head shakes about 20 years ago that recently spread to her arms and hands. Geser fell ill in 1990, and was diagnosed four years ago with myasthenia gravis, a disorder that weakens body muscles. A few years ago, Geser could climb the towers’ stairs. She now uses a wheelchair. The pair do not blame the military for their problems. But they want to know what caused their issues, and don’t understand why the Army or EPA never informed the Fort McClellan population of known environmental concerns. “I don’t know what else to pin it on,” Hebert said in an interview, tears streaming down her face. “I don’t want handouts. What bothers me the most is the condition I am in and not knowing if things are going to get better.”
A soldier’s 39-year battle (Albany Times Union)
February 27, 2011
Disabled Army veteran Susan Frasier rides an overnight Greyhound bus alone each month to Washington, D.C., to walk the halls of Congress in search of elected officials who will support her where the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and federal courts have not. Frasier, 60, blames her five months of Army training at Fort McClellan, Ala., in 1970 for decades of crippling health problems. She says toxic chemicals at the base poisoned her, causing her to suffer from fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders and asthma. She underwent a hysterectomy at age 37, and surgery to remove a life-threatening stomach blockage in 1991, when she was forced to retire from General Electric Co. Despite her health problems and living on a fixed income, the Albany woman has for eight years traveled to the nation’s capital to press lawmakers to examine the health records of Fort McClellan veterans. She also wants state leaders to investigate past corruption of disability claims in the VA’s New York office, which has rejected her applications for monthly disability payments stemming from her military service. Driven by a belief that the VA has abandoned her and others who served, the ex-soldier has turned into a “protester” for veterans rights. Frasier counsels others who served at Fort McClellan, some of whom have also experienced health problems that are similar to those caused by Agent Orange exposure and Gulf War Syndrome. “My life has been ruined, destroyed,” Frasier said.
$700 million settlement in Alabama PCB lawsuit (The New York Times)
April 21, 2003
Solutia Inc. and the Monsanto Company have agreed to pay $700 million to settle claims by more than 20,000 Anniston residents over PCB contamination, plaintiff’s lawyers said today. The agreement, which will end a long-running trial in state court over decades-old pollution from a chemical plant in the east Alabama city, includes payments to homeowners and cash to finance a PCB research laboratory, lawyers for the residents said in a statement. The two companies said the settlement called for $600 million in cash. Monsanto will pay $390 million, Solutia will pay $50 million and the rest will be covered by insurance, according to a statement from Monsanto. Costs for clean-up, prescription drug and other programs detailed in the agreement will push the total amount to more than $700 million, said Stacy Smith, a spokeswoman for the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Another plaintiff’s lawyer, Jere Beasley, said the total would surpass $800 million. Jurors already had awarded more than $100 million in verdicts against the companies in the trial, which began more than a year ago.
Living on poisoned ground (People.com)
March 25, 2002
Until just a few years ago, Anniston, Ala., was a thriving little manufacturing town of 24,000 nestled beneath the Talladega Mountains, 60 miles east of Birmingham. Now parts of it resemble something closer to a wasteland. More than 100 homes and small businesses have been bulldozed or abandoned in the Sweet Valley and Cobb Town neighborhoods; whole tracts of land are sealed off behind chain-link fences, where there are sigas warning Danger; Bettye Bowie, 60, who works at a Head Start program, and her husband, Arthur, 63, a retired warehouse supervisor, lived in one Working-class neighborhood for 38 years until, fearing for their health, they fled their four-bedroom home last October. “That was our dream house,” says Bettye. “That is where our memories are.” Thanks to one of the worst cases of pollution in the country’s history, memories are about all they have left. For more than 35 years the Monsanto plant in Anniston spewed PCBs, a toxic chemical banned from use in 1979 because of its probable links to cancer in humans, into local waterways and landfills. The effects of the PCBs and other waste products were startling. In 1966 a scientist hired by Monsanto immersed bluegills in a creek to test its toxicity levels; all died within four minutes, their skin sloughing off and blood gushing from their gills, the result, it was later determined, of muriatic acid. Says Jack Matson, a professor of environmental engineering at Penn State: “I have never seen anything as bad as Anniston in the U.S.”
Jurors begin damages phase in Anniston PCB case (St. Louis Business Journal)
March 18, 2003
Jurors in Alabama began considering how much thousands of residents of Anniston, Ala., are due to be paid after decades of pollution from a Monsanto PCB plant. The Associated Press reported that the damage phase began more than a year after the jury found Solutia, then Monsanto, liable for knowingly contaminating their homes and bodies with PCBs, known carcinogens. More than 3,500 residents of Anniston had sued both companies. Monsanto Co. manufactured PCBs in Anniston from 1929 to 1971. In 1971, the company stopped production in Anniston and moved it to its plant in Sauget, Ill., just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. The two sides have been in settlement negotiations since February 2002. Jurors will decide on an appropriate amount for damages for the first plaintiff in the case, then will move on to the next plaintiff until they get through nearly 1,000 claims, the AP reported. The jury is expected to eventually decide damages for groups of people rather than individual plaintiffs, according to the report. Last March, Solutia Inc. said it would provide a remedial investigation and feasibility study as part of its settlement with the federal government in the Anniston, Ala., PCB case. Solutia said it has already done $46 million in investigation and cleanup on about 300 acres of land and drainage ditches in the Anniston area.
Jury finds Monsanto liable in PCB case (CNN.com)
February 22, 2002
Chemical giant Monsanto was found liable for contaminating an Alabama town with the toxic chemical PCB, a jury decided Friday. The verdict came in a complicated lawsuit against Monsanto and its chemical-manufacturing spinoff, Solutia Inc. Monsanto is a subsidiary of Pharmacia Corp. Some 3,500 Anniston, Alabama, residents and business owners originally sued the companies, claiming Monsanto knowingly contaminated their community for decades with PCBs, chemicals used as an insulating fluid in electrical capacitors and transformers. In this first part of the trial, 16 plaintiffs brought charges ranging from negligence to creating a nuisance, according to plaintiffs’ attorney Donald Stewart. Friday’s verdict establishes the company’s liability in those cases, and lays the groundwork for punitive damages. The next phase of the trial aims at establishing causation and damages for the rest of the plaintiffs. “We won on all counts,” Stewart said. “We’re gratified about the decision and look forward to presenting the remaining cases.” Monsanto, which spun off its chemical business — including the Anniston plant– in 1997, has been trying to distance itself from the case, pointing out that Solutia now owns the plant. Monsanto attorneys had argued the company acted responsibly by closing the Anniston plant in 1971 — six years before PCB production was banned by the government. The attorneys said the company wasn’t aware the chemicals were being released or that they could be dangerous to the general public.
Toxic Secret: Alabama town was never warned of contamination (60 Minutes-CBS News)
November 7, 2002
Imagine a place so saturated with toxic, cancer-causing chemicals that it’s in the dirt people walk on, the air they breathe – even the blood that pumps through their veins. The 24,000 people living in Anniston, Ala., don’t have to imagine this. Many of them are living it. In fact, they have been living it for decades – they just didn’t know it. The company responsible didn’t tell them, and neither did the Environmental Protection Agency. Monsanto and its corporate spin-off, called Solutia, agreed to pay $700 million in damages and clean-up costs to the community. Today, parts of Anniston are so contaminated that residents have been told not to grow vegetables in the soil, kick up dirt, eat food, chew gum or smoke cigarettes while working in their yards. “Our children have to play in the streets, on the sidewalks, because they can’t play in the grass because it’s contaminated,” says resident David Baker. “We have to wear masks if we cut our grass. Where else in the United States of America are people doing that?” The problem is polychlorinated byphenyls – PCBs – one of the most pervasive and profitable industrial chemicals of 20th Century America. They were used as insulators in electric transformers, and mixed into everything from paint to newsprint. They were invented in Anniston in 1929 and manufactured here by Monsanto for almost 40 years – a source of wealth and jobs until the 1970s, when it became clear that PCBs were doing more harm to the environment than good for industry. They were banned in 1979, but the people here are still living with the legacy.
Army finds welding gas brought hospital deaths (The New York Times)
May 29, 1983
A tank resembling an oxygen container but faintly labeled ”argon,” a gas used in welding, was examined by investigators after the deaths of two patients who breathed the gas at the Army hospital here. Military officials confirmed early today that two patients died and a third lapsed into a coma Wednesday because the argon tank was connected to the main oxygen supply system at Noble Army Hospital on Fort McClellan in Anniston. The 100-bed hospital’s operating and delivery rooms had been closed for three days while investigators determined what killed a sergeant and a premature infant and left the wife of another Army sergeant near death. ”It is apparent that we were supplied argon in place of oxygen in a tank normally used for oxygen,” said Col. Edward M. Johnson, a doctor and the commander at the hospital. ”Subsequent administration of argon to the patients resulted in suffocation.” Odorless and Nontoxic.