Jan 27, 2013

Greenville receives funds from class action settlement

GREENVILLE – As a result of the $105 million settlement of a class action lawsuit over atrazine, the City of Greenville Public Water System has received $17,688.09 to help reimburse the costs of removing the weed killer from its community water system. Atrazine is sprayed on corn and other crops and frequently runs off of fields and into waterway used as drinking water sources.

Atrazine (2-chloro-4 ethylamino-6-isopropylamino-s-triazine) is one of the most widely-used herbicides in the United States and has been found in some ground and surface waters. The product has been marketed by companies including Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC.

Under EPA requirements, finished water can contain a maximum concentration of 3 ppb atrazine as an annual average. The lawsuit claimed that atrazine at any level injures Community Water Systems’ water supplies. Syngenta denied the allegations in the lawsuit and asserted that atrazine has been repeatedly and safely used for over 50 years. According to Gary Evans, department head for Greenville Public Water System, Greenville has never exceeded the levels set by the EPA. Water is tested in April, May and June when a higher concentration of atrazine could be found on fields.

Evans also noted if certain indicators are present, the city would switch from using water from the Greenville Creek to accessing water from the city’s wells.

Since 2004, Korein Tillery, a law firm from St. Louis, and Barron & Budd, a law firm from Dallas, have represented water providers across the country against Syngenta. The City of Greenville Public Water System was one of 1,085 water system, providing water to nearly 37 million people, to benefit from this settlement. Individual amounts were calculated based on the contamination history of the claimants.

The settlement is meant to help reimburse communities for past expenses associated with the removal of atrazine. According to Lead Attorney Stephen M. Tillery, the percentage of participation by class members was unprecedented. “Every cent of the settlement fund will be distributed to class members.” Tillery also said, “The scope of this settlement is enormous. These settlement funds will be used to help protect the health of millions of people across the country.”

Safety/Service Director Curt Garrison noted it was great to receive unexpected revenue and the money will be put in the water department’s fund where it can only be used by the water department.

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