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Former Monsanto companies to pay $17.9 million to clean up Sauget landfills

Two companies that spun off from Monsanto will have to clean up the places in Sauget where they disposed of hazardous waste for decades.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the cleanup will cost $17.9 million.

Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia LLC entered into a consent decree with the EPA to clean up four former landfills and waste lagoons in the Metro East.

The companies, formerly owned by Monsanto, used the 270-acre site along the Mississippi River to dispose of hazardous waste including PCBs, lead, benzene, cadmium and other cancer-causing substances.

Under the settlement filed Tuesday, the companies will reimburse the EPA $700,000 for work already done and implement the agency’s cleanup plan.

“This settlement is one in a series that requires the industry that polluted Sauget and Cahokia to clean up their mess,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce S. Gelber of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement demonstrates the Justice Department’s and EPA’s continuing efforts, together with our state partners, to ensure that polluters, not the American public, pay for the investigation and cleanup of Superfund sites.”

 A map of Sauget Area 2 superfund site comprises 270 acres of landfills and commercial and industrial areas along the Mississippi River. Area borders are approximate.
Mapbox, OpenStreetMap
The Sauget Area 2 superfund site comprises 270 acres of landfills and commercial and industrial areas along the Mississippi River in Illinois. Area borders are approximate.

The cleanup requires the companies place caps over waste areas and ensure no toxic vapors escape.

The public will have 30 days to comment on the details of the consent decree before final court approval.

“For too long, residents in the Metro East area have been overburdened by legacy sources of pollution,” said Administrator Debra Shore of EPA’s Region 5. “Today’s settlement is the result of years of EPA’s efforts to investigate the extent and sources of soil and surface water contamination in the four former landfills. And to hold accountable those who placed it there.”

The industrial area is not readily accessible to the public, but the remedial actions required under the settlement will prevent exposure to these harmful contaminants for workers, fishermen or others in the area, the EPA said.

The action filed Tuesday is the latest in various lawsuits and settlements involving the cleanup of these former landfills dating back 15 years in which Solutia and Pharmacia have conducted extensive investigations, paid for the removal of hazardous wastes and installed a slurry wall to prevent contaminated groundwater from leaching into the nearby Mississippi River, the EPA reported.

In 2017, Pharmacia and Solutia were among four companies that reached a settlement with the EPA and agreed to pay $14.8 million to clean up a Superfund area just east of the 270-acre riverside site.

Follow Fred on Twitter: @freditor15

Fred is the politics editor at St. Louis Public Radio.
Eric Schmid covers business and economic development for St. Louis Public Radio.

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