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City of Greenville v. Syngenta

 Various Midwestern municipalities and water boards charged with filtering public drinking supplies brought this suit against Syngenta, the corporate family that manufactures and distributes the chemical "Atrazine".

The Plaintiffs alleged that Syngenta manufactures and distributes Atrazine. Atrazine is a herbicide used in agriculture, one of a group of herbicides known as "Triazenes".

Atrazine is used to control broadleaf and grassy weeds in a variety of crops, but is applied primarily to corn fields. A Syngenta legacy company discovered and synthesized atrazine in the early 1950s. Syngenta is the largest manufacturer and distributor of atrazine and atrazine-containing products in the U.S.

  Syngenta began offering Atrazine to the U.S. Market in 1959 where it was marketed to farmers, and has been on the market ever since, as one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. The Plaintiffs allege that Atrazine pollutes streams and ground water, causing damage and forcing damages on the Plaintiffs as they must pay the cost to remove it from their water during the water treatment process. 

The Plaintiffs were various community water systems from six states that own property and facilities designed to acquire, treat, and dispense water for public use. These water systems are compelled by the Safe Water Drinking Act ("SDWA") to test their finished drinking water for contaminants to ensure they do not exceed any Maximum Contaminant Level ("MCL").

Plaintiffs alleged several issues with atrazine, namely

  • Atrazine has continuously entered their water supply, damaging their property rights.

  • For the above reason, Plaintiffs had/have to test and monitor their water supplies for atrazine, as well as install, operate, and maintain system to filter atrazine from the water supply.

  • As well as this, atrazine will continue to be an ongoing problem with the water systems so future damages must be taken into account as well.

After almost eight years of litigation in state and federal court, the case settled for $105 million. 

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