Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 22 January 2013 14:07
The Marion City Council learned more details about its share of the $105 million atrazine class action lawsuit.
City Administrator Doug Kjellin said as a result of the lawsuit, the city received $162,748 to help reimburse the costs of removing atrazine, a chemical used for weed control on corn and soybean crops, from its community water system.
According to information Kjellin presented to the council, a law firm in St. Louis, Mo., and another in Dallas, Texas, represented water providers nationwide against Syngenta, based in Switzerland, and the world’s largest atrazine manufacturer.
“The city of Marion was one of 1,085 water systems providing water to nearly 37 million people, to benefit from this settlement,” he said.
With Marion’s portion, Kjellin explained that the funds are in the capital improvement budget.
“We anticipate presenting to the council a recommendation with some securities for our water plant as soon as possible,” he said.
Kjellin said he spoke with Marty Fredrickson, with the city’s water department, about rehabilitating the granular activated carbon or GAC filter.
“The granular activated carbon is the best filtration method for reducing atrazine in the finished water,” he said. “We want to make sure we have enough GAC on hand for future years of cleaning.”
In addition to the water plant, Kjellin said, the lagoons are needing major dredging.
“(The settlement) will provide major funding so we can have a properly functioning water plant,” he said.
Substantiating that claim in a statement recently, the lead attorney in the class action lawsuit, Stephen M. Tillery, said the settlement funds will be used to help protect the health of millions of people across the country.
Kjellin said the city received notice Wednesday and its share of the settlement by Thursday.
“The funds are in the capital improvement (budget),” he said, adding the intent is to earmark as much of the money as possible in making sure the city gets the atrazine out of its water.
The concern with atrazine, according to the class action suit, is that when it is sprayed on corn or other crops, it frequently runs off fields and into waterways used as drinking water sources.
“We want to provide the cleanest, safest drinking water we can,” Kjellin said.
The Marion City Council plans to discuss the expenditure of funds further at its Feb. 4 meeting.
Although the city of Hillsboro chose to bow out of the class action lawsuit in March 2010, the city still received about a $42,000 settlement for its initial involvement.
Both Hillsboro and Marion city councils decided to join the lawsuit at about the same time in 2009 against the European company, Syngenta, and five other corporations that manufacture, formulate or market products containing atrazine.
According to the lawsuit filed more than eight years ago, atrazine has allegedly been linked to a variety of health problems including multiple cancers.
Information from previous news articles stated that from May 1995 through June 2007, the level of atrazine in the Hillsboro water supply ranged from 0.8 to 1.2 parts per billion, but the maximum level set by the EPA is at 3.0 parts per billion.
When the two communities first decided to join others in the lawsuit, the Hillsboro Free Press reported that both Hillsboro and Marion drew significant public criticism from some agricultural groups, including the Kansas Corn Growers Association and the Kansas Grain Sorghum Growers Producers Association.