Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xx

Biologist and nature writer Rachel Carson opened her 1962 landmark study Silent Spring with a lovely, lyrical, but partly fictionalized parable that vividly anticipated mounting problems associated with chemical pesticides. Carson combined real examples from several distinct locales and...

Abbreviations

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pp. xxi-xxiv

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Introduction: Toxic Knowledge

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pp. 1-17

On February 22, 2002, an Alabama jury unanimously held the global agrochemical giant Monsanto and its corporate partners legally responsible for PCB contamination in the land and in the bodies of people who had lived near the company’s Anniston, Alabama, plant. The state court jury found...

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1. The Model City: A Romance of the New South

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pp. 18-31

An 1883 display ad in Henry Grady’s Atlanta Constitution proclaimed Anniston the healthiest place in the southern states. The “Best, Healthiest, and Most Invigorating Climate in the World” claimed the city’s founders and publicists. In Anniston could be found the “Three Essentials of a Good...

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2. The War for Chemical Supremacy

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pp. 32-52

John Francis Queeny opened the Monsanto Chemical Works next to the Diamond Match factory on the south side of St. Louis in 1901 at the dawn of “the Chemical Century.” Ambitious to take its place in an expansive vision for turn-of-the-century America, the new company used rapidly developing...

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3. Monsanto's Move "Down South"

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pp. 53-77

Opal Scruggs was born in 1935, the year the Monsanto Chemical Company acquired Swann’s holdings and took over producing PCBs. Scruggs was born Opal Ferguson in a little white clapboard house in West Anniston, near where a Huddle House later stood. The Fergusons lived in the Mitchell...

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4. A Technological High Command

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pp. 78-95

In July 1943, James W. Irwin, assistant to the president of the Monsanto Chemical Company, spoke at the Anniston Rotary Club Tuesday luncheon. “In every industrial field you will find the infiltration of this ever growing octopus—the chemical industry,” Irwin said. “Now the searchlight of war...

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5. War in a Time of Peace

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pp. 96-118

Imogene and Grover Baker were already on a solemn mission on Mother’s Day, 1961. Returning from a funeral in Birmingham, the Bakers were driving down picturesque Highway 202 when they noticed smoke and flames up ahead, just outside Anniston. Coming closer, Imogene Baker could make...

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6. The Nature of the Poison

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pp. 119-146

In late May 1961, while Anniston’s attention was riveted on the aftermath of the bus attack out on Birmingham Highway, thick sludge from Monsanto’s Anniston plant overwhelmed the local water department’s treatment station downstream in Oxford and, for three or four days, heavy concentrations...

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7. The Death of Aroclors

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pp. 147-173

Shortly before Christmas, 1970, a representative from the Monsanto plant approached West Anniston resident Jeremiah Smith with an unusual request. Monsanto wanted to buy all fifty of his hogs—at ten dollars a head. Smith raised pigs for a little fresh meat and an occasional bit of supplementary...

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8. Challenging the Green Dragon

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pp. 174-201

Awareness of the town’s toxic legacy first came to Anniston residents not because of PCBs, but through revelations in the late 1980s that the U.S. Army had amassed a substantial arsenal of outdated Cold War–era chemical weapons at the Anniston Army Depot. News about the weapons stockpile came...

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9. Contaminated Bodies, Contaminated Soil

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pp. 202-234

Like many of the people who mobilized for safe disposal of chemical weapons, Cassandra Roberts had not planned on becoming an environmental activist. Nevertheless, Roberts would become a principal leader in the fight over PCB contamination that pitted West Anniston residents against one of...

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10. Witnessing the Explosion in Toxic Torts

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pp. 235-263

In early 1996, as Monsanto’s relocation plan uprooted families living nearest the chemical factory, residents of West Anniston saw no alternative but to take Monsanto to court. After learning of the contamination, individual property and business owners in Anniston and along the waterways...

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11. Aftershocks

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pp. 264-290

Optimism prevailed in Anniston as State Circuit Court Judge Laird and Federal District Court Judge Clemon stood on the sweltering south-facing steps of Anniston’s restored brick judicial building on August 21, 2003, and told the growing crowd of the record settlement in damages and cleanup costs...

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Epilogue: Remodeling the Model City

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pp. 291-304

“You don’t go around and do things like this to people and get away with it,” says Opal Scruggs. Scruggs believes that Monsanto officials, those who knew about the hazards associated with PCB exposure and did not act to protect Anniston residents, will get justice, eventually. “I’d like to be at the...

Notes

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pp. 305-376

Bibliography

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pp. 377-410

Index

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pp. 411-440