Mendocino’s Genocide: Hidden History of Willits, Little Lake Valley

•April 15, 2015 • 5 Comments


The Willits – Little Lake Valley was called Mitomkai meaning big valley, mato = big + kai valley, by the Mitomkai Pomo Indian Tribelets which lived and claimed the Little Lake Valley as their home for thousands of years. The heavily populated Valley supported a population of over 4,000 in ancient times, the Mitomkai Pomo indians lived on the high ground around the Valley. The largest of the Villages, called “mato” or “Big” was situated at the site of present day Willits, on the top of the Hill between Coast Street and Mill Street, there is still the large oak tree which is judged to be around 300 years old standing on this hill today. The Mitomkai Pomo practiced a hunter gatherer life dominated by collection of prairie seeds from the Valley which the Indians cultivated by burning the fields and Meadows in spring and spreading the seeds which were gathered in the fall the year before.

Pomo Woman Gathering Pinole Seeds with Baskets.

Pomo Woman Gathering Pinole Seeds with Baskets.

The seeds were gathered as they ripened using a long cylindrical basket and a “beating basket” which was used to thresh the seeds into the larger basket. Acorns were gathered in the Fall and stored in winter granaries which kept the acorns fresh and out of the reach of pests.

Acorn Granary

Acorn Granary

Salmon were harvested in the fall around November and December as Chinook King Salmon and Coho Salmon as well as trout and Steelhead made their annual migrations. The Mitomkai Pomo Territory Extended to the Coast where the Mitomkai Pomo claimed a Village at Big River in Mendocino called Buldam. The Ancient Indian trail to the Coast followed the modern day Willits – Fortbragg Road except the Indian Trails were on the ridgetops. At the Mouth of Big River, at a Village called Buldam by the Mitomkai Pomo Indians, the Indians collected seaweeds, Mussels and Abalone as well as fished the many different Species of Freshwater Fish including Salmon and Steelhead from Big River. Fish, mollusks including mussels and abalone as well as seaweed were dried on the ridge tops above the fog bank on the coast where they kept their villages safe from passing boats canoes and kayaks. The Indians used all sorts of Canoes up and down the California Coast from the Chumash in Santa Barbara to the Yurok of Humboldt County. The Ocean was used as a highway for trade. Many trading spots were found along the Mendocino Coast, from Big River to Mussel Rock. Many tribes from all over the California Coast would gather at Mussel Rock North of Ten Mile River. There on the large hill overlooking Mussel Rock and the Pacific Ocean was a Village called Lilem where high on the overlooking hill was a Subterranean Sweat house Capable of holding 200 people or more for religious ceremony. The many shellmounds as well as midden piles along the Mendocino Coast are testament to the ancient land claims to ancient fishing grounds.

Indian Sweathouse, Big River Mendocino County Ca

Indian Sweathouse, Big River Mendocino County Ca

Little Lake, Mitomkai Valley hosted large herds of deer and elk as well as large populations of Grizzly Bear and Mountain Lions before the coming of foreign settlers. Many of the Mitomkai Pomo people were rounded up on the Coast as they made their yearly trips to the coast sometime around the year 1855. In 1855 an exploration party from the Bureau of Indian Affairs visited the area looking for a site on which to establish a reservation and, in the spring of 1856, the Mendocino Indian Reservation was established at Noyo.[1] In the summer of 1857, First Lieutenant Horatio G. Gibson, then serving at the Presidio of San Francisco, was ordered to take Company M, 3rd Regiment of Artillery to establish a military post one and one-half miles north of the Noyo River on the Mendocino Indian Reservation. The official date of the establishment of Fort Bragg was June 11, 1857. Its purpose was to maintain order on the reservation, and protect the Indians and reservation lands from settlers. Many Mitomakai Pomo People would never return from their yearly fishing trip to the coast. Instead they were “rounded up” like cattle by cowboys on horses and marched to Fort Bragg, then the headquarters of the Mendocino Indian Reservation. At the reservation the indians faced starvation, disease as well as the kidknapping and rape of their women and children. Other groups which ran away from the Reservation were hunted down by groups and Militias of State Sanctioned and State Paid “Volunteers” such as William Jarboes “Eel River Rangers”.

Mendocino Indian Reservation

Mendocino Indian Reservation

As more settlers encroached on Little Lake Valley and Mendocino County, indian hunting grounds were ruined by the hooves of Settlers Cattle which ate the Indians grasses and clovers. Settlers killed the Elk and Deer which had been so carefully manged for millennia. Starving Displaced indians soon turned to killing livestock and cattle to survive. White Settlers retaliated by raiding indian villages during the early morning hours and killing every man woman and child to be found. Soon, every loss of animal was blamed on the indians despite the fact the County hosted a very large population of Mountain Lions and Grizzly Bears who have been found to be the main culprits behind the missing game. In the meantime the Mitomkai Pomo indians were blamed, the Mitomkai were rounded up or killed. Many Children were sold to Ranchers in the Sacramento Valley where they fetched up to a $100 for a girl.

Kidnapping indians mendocino

Genocide of the Mitomkai and Mendocino Indian Tribes “The Mendocino War” Round Valley, located in northeastern Mendocino County in Northern California, was home to various Native American tribes. The most populous of these local tribes were the Yuki, whose territory was roughly 1,100 square miles.[1] The Yuki were not one political people; rather, they were several autonomous groups that shared both language and culture, with each community having its own leadership.[2] In 1853, California started its Indian Reservation System, which was headed by Thomas J. Henley (Superintendent of Indian Affairs), and by 1854 Round Valley was discovered by white settlers.[3] Frank Asbill, the first white man to see the territory, estimated that there were about 20,000 natives in the area at the time. Scholars now believe this number is a little high, but by 1856, there were 12,000 Native Americans in Round Valley.[4] Although a few families moved into native territory, many of the settlers were hunters, fugitives, drifters, and the like. In general, they were people who lived off of the land, who traveled to the area for its resources.[3] In the same year, Thomas Henley sent Simmon Pena Storms to start the Nome Cult Farm.[3] Originally meant to be a resting point for natives and people traveling to the Mendocino Reservation, the Nome Cult Farm grew to become a reservation of its own, occupying 5,000 acres of northern Round Valley. This division of the 20,000 acre territory left over 15,000 acres for white settlement.[3] Members of the Yuki tribe on the Nome Cult Farm (c.1858) Seeds of conflict

Despite the amount of land set aside for white settlement, the government had trouble stopping newcomers from settling all over the valley, including on the Nome Cult Farm and Mendocino Reservation.[5] As settlers moved into what was designated native territory, it became hard for the natives to survive. Those that lived on the Nome Cult Farm lived a life of hardship. In a type of indentured servitude, the natives raised their crops but reaped little of the actual benefits.[6] Natives were not protected but were subject to brutal treatment that included assaults, rape, murder, theft of their property, disease, and starvation.[7] Many white settlers who encroached on native territory engaged in kidnapping, stealing Native women and children and subjugating them to servitude or sexual abuse.[8] Natives at the Nome Cult Farm were overworked, and could even be killed if their work was not up to the standards of the reservation.[9] White settlers continued to exploit native land, with many families fencing in thousands of acres each.[10] They removed fences from the Nome Cult Farm and allowed their herds to graze on and through native land, some of which was already filled with crops.[11] The California Reservation System, which was subject to corruption, fraud and misuse of federal funds, provided little recourse.[12] As more settlers encroached on native land and resources, native food sources dried up on and around the reservations. Escalation

Since ranching methods at the time were not very advanced (barbed wire had not been invented), the settlers had trouble keeping their livestock on their land. Many tried to train their animals to stay in a certain area, but this was not always effective. Livestock often wandered, and the local terrain made matters worse. The territory was new, unfamiliar, and full of hazardous cliffs and predators, and many cattle and horses wandered off and died of natural causes.[13] However, the settlers blamed the natives for any animal that went missing, believing that they were the targets of “Indian Depredations”, holding public meetings to stir up animosity towards the natives.[11] In retaliation, they continued their assaults on native land and resources. With no police force at hand, the reservation was powerless to stop local theft of native property or abductions of native people.[7] Locals like Dryden Lacock even stated that settlers, including himself, were engaging in small raiding parties that killed “50-60 Indians a trip”.[6] Finally, on the brink of starvation and left with almost no options, the natives began to retaliate. In 1857 a Yuki shot a man named William Mantle while trying to cross the Eel River, and in 1858 a white man named John McDaniel was murdered.[6] Both had been famous for crimes committed against Native Americans, and reports from the U.S. Army claim that the natives were provoked in both instances.[14] State and federal involvement Seal of the natives of Round Valley

As tensions rose and natives began retaliating for crimes committed against them, the settlers petitioned the U.S. Army for aid. In 1859 the 6th U.S. infantry led by Major Edward Johnson was called to Round Valley.[6] Major Johnson sent Lieutenant Edward Dillon ahead with 17 men to scout the area and assess the situation. Lieutenant Dillon reported back that the settlers misrepresented the situation. Instead of settlers falling prey to natives, the settlers had in fact already killed hundreds of natives, whose hostile actions had been taken out of revenge or in an effort to survive. The problem, he reported, went all the way up the chain to Supt. Henley, who had been involved in organizing many of these raiding parties.[15] In fact, Supt. Henley was in league with Judge Serranus C. Hastings (a former Iowa Supreme Court Justice), who helped him design plans for the removal of natives from the local territory. As part of their plan, they launched raiding parties and held town-hall style public gatherings where settlers aired their grievances, leading to increased racial prejudice and hatred towards the natives.[16] Judge Hastings was also involved in real estate and livestock trade, and in one instance, the natives stole Judge Hastings’s $2,000 stallion in retaliation for the beatings they received at the hands of Judge Hastings’s ranch manager, H.L. Hall.[17] Hall had been involved in many brutal assaults on natives. He complained to Lieutenant Dillon that the natives were stealing white supplies. Dillon urged Hall to let him handle the situation, but Hall ignored the command and took his own men raiding. By March 23, 1859, Hall and his men had killed about 240 natives.[15] Dillon reported that Hall did not distinguish between guilty natives or innocent ones, and that his murders of even women and children were unprovoked.[18] In fact, later on when Hall asked for soldiers at his property to protect his livestock, the soldiers refused to do anything to help him, since they were only ordered to defend a native onslaught, and they did not believe what was happening resembled a native attack.[19] The natives faced a choice of either starving to death on the reservations that provided them with no food, or venturing off into the mountainous regions of Mendocino County and risk slaughter by local settlers.

Yurok Canoe Klamath River

Yurok Canoe Klamath River

Walter S. Jarboe and the Mendocino War

As the conflict reached a boiling point, Judge Hastings made the executive decision to fire Hall and move all of the remaining natives to the Mendocino Reservation, more to save his property than for the protection of the natives.[20] In June 1859 the “Citizens of Nome Cult Valley”, a group of 39 settlers from Round Valley, petitioned the governor of California, Governor John B. Weller, for help in protecting the settlers from native attacks.[21] This petition, promoted and pushed for by Henley and Judge Hastings, was one of more than a dozen letters and petitions that the white settlers of Round Valley sent to the governor requesting government funding for volunteers who sought to protect white property.[22] Within these petitions, the settlers stated their intentions to remove the natives from Mendocino through a “war of extermination”.[23] Weller turned to the Army for advice on the petition, seeking to know whether or not the allegations of the settlers were true, since the petitions alleged that over $40,000 in property damages had occurred and over 70 whites had been slain by natives. The petitions also requested that Walter S. Jarboe, a Mendocino County resident, be assigned captain of this group.[24] In 1858, Jarboe had been a leader on a raid in the Mendocino Reservation that killed over 60 natives.[15] Countering the petitioners’ claims, Major Johnson and Lieutenant Dillon issued reports telling a different story, claiming that only 2 whites and about 600 native had been killed in the past year.[15]

In the meantime, Hastings had grown tired of waiting, and created a new company anyway, without federal funding, with Jarboe as captain. The company was often referred to as the Eel River Rangers, and Hastings and Henley promised to provide the funding (they later went back on this promise, forcing the state to pay for Jarboe and his men).[25] From July 1859 to January 1860, Jarboe and his men ravaged native lands and massacred many natives. Claiming that the natives were guilty of theft and violence, Jarboe and his men engaged in an “ethnic cleansing genocide”.[26] Trying to justify his actions, Jarboe and his men used carcasses from plundered villages to try and give evidence for native thievery. It was a shoot-first, ask-questions-later approach that gave Jarboe and his men the powers of “judge, jury, and executioner”.[27] From July through the middle of August, Jarboe and his men had already killed at least 50 men, women, and children, prompting Major Johnson to write to Governor Weller. The governor wrote to Jarboe several times, sanctioning the raids, but asking Jarboe to leave out women and children and any innocent natives. Jarboe largely ignored these letters.[28] Through October Jarboe and his men continued to rampage through the countryside, killing and capturing natives. Those natives they captured were sent to the Mendocino Reservation and the Nome Cult Farm.[29] On February 18, 1860, Jarboe summarized his record, claiming that in 23 engagements, he and his men killed 283 warriors, captured 292 prisoners, while only sustaining 5 casualties themselves. The bill to the state for their five months of service was $11,143.43.[34] However, scholars now believe that the number of native casualties was grossly understated, as was the cost to the state. New California Governor John G. Downey now inherited the massive debts incurred by Jarboe and the settlers’ raids, debts that the state could not afford to pay.[31] Damage done to Yuki and other tribal cultures was incalculable.

The public reception of the conflict was mixed. A newly created Joint Special Committee on the Mendocino Indian War (also called the Select Committee on Indian Affairs) heard testimony from local settlers. The evidence was contradictory, with stories differing from each account, but some things remained consistent. Jarboe claimed that his actions were provoked by citing numbers of whites killed, but Dillon’s reports contradicted those statements. Dillon wrote to his superiors that white settlers were at fault for the entire conflict, and that the locals had funded the slaughter.[35] Many settlers claimed that the natives began the trouble by stealing cattle, while others testified that natives were allowed to eat the cattle and horses that strayed and died of natural causes.[34] Nevertheless, a general consensus emerged that the settlers wanted the natives off of their land and used any means necessary to force them out, including blaming natives for stealing livestock. The investigation concluded that no war had actually occurred in Mendocino County, since the slaughter of natives who offered little resistance and launched no counterattacks could not be considered a war. Rather, the conflict could be more correctly labeled as massacre, and later on historians began calling it a genocide. The committee also recommended some laws to help protect California Indians in the future, but none of them were ever put into place.[34]


Between the time people settled in Mendocino County and the end of the ‘war’ (1856-1860), the population of Indians decreased by 80%.[36] The rest were relegated to the Mendocino Reservation and the Nome Cult Farm.[36] In the late 1880s, tensions left unresolved from this conflict would lead to the Round Valley War when, in defiance of federal authority, settlers once again began to take over areas of the reservation, ignoring federal policies and settling on Yuki lands.[37]

The natives were left facing major challenges. Working against them were hunger, unequal weapons, repeated and surprise attacks, their vulnerable position on reservations, and their lack of ability to speak on their own behalf. Jarboe’s forces also alienated some white settlers, slaughtering their livestock if they refused to give them food or the necessary supplies.[25] However, most of the damage was done to the natives and was especially deadly given the timing. With winter around the corner, the natives had spent months preparing and harvesting crops. Now, with raids, the men who farmed and hunted and the women who gathered and made the food were killed, and native stores of winter supplies were plundered and lost.[30] Jarboe and his men meanwhile continued their raiding and killing through the winter with the goal of removing the natives completely from Round Valley.[31] Some settlers also decided to assist in this cause, with ranchers leading attacks and raiding parties of their own. In one 22-day period, 40 ranchers killed at least 150 natives.[29] Finally, on January 3, 1860, Governor Weller disbanded Jarboe’s group.[32] The public swiftly opposed this decision, petitioning Governor Weller to reinstate the Eel River Rangers, but the protest was unsuccessful.[33]

Mendocino Supervisors Turn Backs On Salmon: Dirty Asphalt Plant to Open on Eel River Floodplain on Covelo Road

•March 24, 2015 • 1 Comment

Asphalt Money More Important than Salmon Recovery:

Grist Creek Sediment Pond

Grist Creek Sediment Pond

Grist Creek Sediment Pond Flooded By Eel River at Outlet Creek.

Grist Creek Sediment Pond Flooded By Eel River at Outlet Creek. Dumping heavy metals and sediment into the Outlet Creek/ Eel River December 2013 during Salmon Spawning Time.

Reasons Not to Open a Asphalt Plant on Outlet Creek:

1. Quarry is in Flood Zone, there is photographic evidence of Flood waters from outlet creek running through the quarry site overrunning sediment ponds and carrying heavy metals as well as fine sediment into Outlet Creek/ Eel River,  an asphalt batch plant will only add to the sediment load which the Eel River Carries which is already rated as one of the largest sediment loads in the world ; 1 The Eel River draining the Coast Range of northwestern
California has the highest recorded average suspended sediment
yield per drainage area of any river of its size or larger unaffected
by volcanic eruptions or active glaciers in the conterminous United States.
1 ( Brown and Ritter, 1971)

2. The placement of the Quarry on a flood bank of the Outlet Creek which is prone to flooding every 5 years was made at a time when there was very little, if any consideration of the impacts of the environmental consequences. The Outlet Road Quarry Site was selected due to it’s proximity to a gravel bar located west of the Quarry which was used for gravel extraction processes. The Original Quarry was never built or intended to be the future place of an Asphalt Batch Plant.The area was only selected for it’s proximity to fresh river aggregate.

3. All Chinook and Coho Salmon which are returning to the headwaters of the Eel River to spawn via Outlet Creek, such as the fish which spawn in Longvale Creek, Outlet Creek, Willits Valley Proper, Sherwood Valley, Curley Cow Creek must pass through this quarry site. The storms which usually dump flood amounts of water historically happen in November and December, the exact time the Chinook and Coho are making their fall spawning runs.

4. The Opening of the Grist Creek Quarry at this site would mainly benefit one person, the owner of the quarry at the cost of  health and well being of an entire fishery. Very little public benefit would arise from the opening of this quarry site.

5. Recreational Interests would be jeopardized by the possible pollution of Outlet Creek a favorite swimming and kayaking spot for many Mendocino County Residents in the spring and summer months.

6. Why build an polluting, stinking, asphalt plant on a flood plain next to a blue line protected stream home to endangered and declining species of salmon?
There are countless other localities which would be far better places to locate an asphalt plant where there will be very little possibility of pollution of major large waterways. The Covelo Road site is not the only alternative to having a asphalt plant. There are countless other places which would be much more suitable to a asphalt plant. Why choose the floodplain of a Federally Protected Blue line Stream??

Letters About Grist Creek Quarry:

Asphalt plant needs more EIR

To the Editor:

Dear Mendocino County Board of Supervisors:

Thank you for working to hard to make Mendocino County a great place to live — safe, sustainable and sensitive to the needs of all residents.

We live at Cherry Creek Ranches, sixteen miles north of Willits off of Highway 101. The southeast side of Cherry Creek Ranches borders Outlet Creek and faces Grist Creek Aggregates.

We spend countless summer hours with our friends, kids and grandchildren enjoying the spectacular swimming hole on Outlet Creek near Mile Marker Five, not far downstream from Grist Creek and the proposed asphalt plant. The first and just about the only thing our grandkids want to do when they visit from New Mexico and Santa Rosa is pack a picnic and hang out at the swimming hole— all day, every day.

They, and we, love the pristine beauty of the creek, the sweet smell of the tall grass along the banks and the peaceful sound of the wind in the trees. The kids launch themselves into the water from a rope swing attached to a tree hanging above the creek (photo attached), which is deep and clear here. Even in drought years we can swim upstream in the direction of Grist Creek Aggregates for nearly a quarter of a mile.

An otter family lives near our swimming hole. At dusk, trout jump, herons glide over the water and turtles warm themselves on the big rocks. We treasure this amazing place, which is also one of the longest remaining coho salmon runs on any river tributary in the state of California.

We want to preserve the creek as a unique recreational area and for its importance to the Eel River Watershed, providing the drinking water not only for our county but for Sonoma and parts of Marin.

Allowing Grist Creek Aggregates to produce asphalt at the Longvale Site (APN 036-190-26), puts the quiet, the beauty, the environmental quality and the natural life of Outlet Creek at risk. In heavy rain years—and we all hope to have some of those again— the rainwater saturates the ground and the creek can flood at the Grist Creek Aggregates facility.

Now that you have accepted the company’s request for a zoning declaration to conduct asphalt production, at the very least, require Grist Creek Aggregates to conduct a new EIR for the site. Mendocino County’s General Plan Update EIR minimized the real and present dangers of asphalt manufacturing so close to Outlet Creek.

If California’s drought continues, it’s critical for you, our county’s leaders, to ensure that our water and environment are pure and safe.

We know you will do the right thing and reject this environmentally risky project.

— Jane Futcher and Erin Carney, Willits and Ukiah

Over 75% of Air and Rain Samples Contain Monsanto’s Round Up ~ Biotech isn’t just tainting the food supply

•March 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

skull monsanto death

A new study proves just how invasive Monsanto’s best selling chemicals are, revealing how herbicide toxins are appearing in 75% of rain and air samples.

Take a deep breath. Thanks to the massive use of herbicides across the planet, you likely just inhaled a dose of Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide, Round Up – at least according to the latest US Geological Survey published in the journal Enviromental Toxicology and Chemistry.

The chemical ingredient used in Round Up, known as glyphosate, as well as other ‘inert’ toxic chemicals, were found in over 75% of the air and rain samples tested from Mississippi in 2007 – a large river that cuts through the middle of the US, and is the basin in which hundreds of farms’ runoff drains.

An evaluation of numerous pesticides currently used were measured through water and air samples collected from 1995 to 2007 during growing season along the Mississippi Delta agricultural region. If 75% of samples containing Round Up isn’t shocking enough, there’s more:

  • Round Up chemicals were prevalent, but so were 37 other toxic compounds – all present in both rain and air samples.
  • Glyphosate was found in 86% of air samples, and 77% of rain samples.
  • Seven compounds in 1995 and five in 2007 were detected in more than 50% of both air and rain samples. Atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in more than 50% of the air and rain samples in both years.

The report states that 2 million kilograms of glyphosate were applied statewide in 2007, or 55% of the total herbicide flux for that year (~129 μg/m2), leading them to state the high prevalence of glyphosate in air and water “was not surprising.”

What is surprising is that these results are not becoming widely distributed until 2015.

This estimate, if correct, reveals that there has been an ~ 18 fold increase in glyphosate concentrations in air and water samples in only 12 years (1995-2007), and likely more since the samples were taken.

This means that our bodies have been under fire with biotech toxins, not just in the food we eat, but in the air we breathe, and the water we drink, for more than a decade.

millions against monsanto

The longer the period of exposure we are subjected to, you can bet the more diseases will crop up.

These toxins have cumulative and synergistic effects with other toxicants with incalculably complex results that produce far more harm together than glyphosate alone (i.e. synergistic toxicity).

If you want to breathe a sigh of relief, you’ll have to fight biotech. It isn’t just the food they are poisoning.

Roundup Drift

Monsanto’s defense of its actions surrounding PCBs can best be summarized this way: the company claims it didn’t know that PCBs were harmful to human health or persistent in the environment until the late 1960s, and as soon as the company learned of these threats, it acted quickly and responsibly to address the problem in a cooperative, forthright manner with the government.

“And the truth is that in 1966 when we found out that PCBs were in the environment, we started an investigation journey and we tried to gather information and we acted responsibly.” [Trial Transcript, Owens v. Monsanto CV-96-J-440-E, (N.D. Alabama April 4, 2001), pg. 454, line 6]

“when Monsanto learned that PCBs could possibly be in the environment, it acted promptly and responsibly and continues to do so.” [Trial Transcript, Owens v. Monsanto CV-96-J-440-E, (N.D. Alabama April 4, 2001), pg. 455, line 14]

Monsanto Poison Maui Hawaii

But as the company’s own documents show, Monsanto went to extraordinary efforts to keep the public in the dark about PCBs, and even manipulated scientific studies by urging scientists to change their conclusions to downplay the risks of PCB exposure. Monsanto’s conduct, throughout the entire period that the company made PCBs, was less than commendable. Their attempts today to backpedal on the science and shirk responsibility for the global saturation of PCBs is equally discouraging, as are their repeated attempts to “green” their image with flashy, expensive PR campaigns.

Today Monsanto does not deny that everyone is contaminated with PCBs. They argue instead that since they have contaminated the entire planet they are innocent of all liability. In Monsanto’s opening statement to the court in the trial of Owens v. Monsanto on April 4, 2001, the company’s lawyers acknowledged only one health threat posed by exposure to PCBs: chloracne, a serious skin condition. According to the lead attorney for Monsanto, defending the company against allegations that its PCB pollution poses a health threat to residents living near its Anniston, AL chemical plant,

“The truth is that PCBs are everywhere. They are in meat, they are in everyone in the courtroom, they are everywhere and they have been for a long time, along with a host of other substances. The truth is that the men and women who have worked around PCBs the most over forty, fifty, sixty years, people in our plant, people in the electrical industry, have not experienced any significant health problems which can be associated or tied into or caused by PCBs other than a serious skin condition called chloracne, which is easily treatable.” [Trial Transcript, Owens v. Monsanto CV-96-J-440-E, (N.D. Alabama April 4, 2001), pg. 453, line 16]

In making these arguments, Monsanto is ignoring the growing evidence that PCBs are quite capable of causing harm to the human body. Following in their predecessor’s footsteps, a spokesperson for Solutia, the company created by Monsanto to assume control over (and liability for) its chemical operations, told Chemical Week in June 2000: “The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence suggests there are no chronic human health effects associated with exposure to PCBs.” Government and independent scientists and public health agencies have concluded otherwise. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have concluded that PCBs are probably carcinogenic to humans (U.S. EPA 1996; IARC 1978, 1987). The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) also suspects that PCBs accumulating in the human body as a result of fish consumption may be causing “developmental deficits and neurological problems in children.” (ATSDR

Other studies on health effects associated with PCB exposure indicate neurotoxicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, immune system suppression, liver damage, skin irritation, and endocrine disruption (Cogliano 1998; Browner testimony 1998; U.S. EPA 1996; Rice 1995).

Available data on the toxicity and persistence of PCBs prompted the global community of nations to include PCBs in the “Dirty Dozen” chemicals being banned by U.N. convention through the Persistent Organic Pollutant or “POPs” Treaty, signed by President Bush.

As the world came to consensus on the hazards of PCBs, Monsanto made no effort to inform the residents of Anniston of the extent of contamination in their community. A 1975 memo from a Monsanto employee to company officials reveals:

“We have no information relating to the effects of PCBs on the people in the areas surrounding our producing facility. We have no programs underway at present to study these effects.” [Papageorge to Potter; December 24, 1975]

“The World’s Best Reference File” on PCBs

Besides ignoring mainstream scientific consensus and downplaying a significant skin disease, Monsanto has routinely displayed a capacity to ignore its own science, which decades ago documented an array of health effects. Most noteworthy is a correlation between PCB exposure and liver damage, which Monsanto learned about in 1938 and repeatedly mentioned in its internal communications and in warnings to some of its customers. Monsanto wouldn’t have to go any further than its own file cabinets and libraries to find documentation of the toxic effects of PCBs.

One memo in particular describes the fact that Monsanto believed it had the most comprehensive collection of information on PCBs in the world.

“I can say that we have probably the world’s best reference file on the PCB situation. This includes reprints from the literature beginning in 1936 to reports issued last week.” [Wheeler to Don Otto; August 6, 1971]

As PCBs are found increasingly hazardous, safety precautions for workers are dropped

As early as 1937, Monsanto knew that repeated contact with PCBs, also referred to by their brand name Aroclors, could lead to “systemic toxic effects” including “an acne-form skin eruption.” [L.A. Watt; October 11, 1937]

The following year, Monsanto learned that test animals exposed to PCBs developed liver damage, according to Dr. Cecil Drinker, who wrote a “Report to the Monsanto Chemical Company” about his findings in 1938. [“Report to the Monsanto Chemical Company” by Drinker]

Dr. Drinker published his findings in The Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology in 1939. In response to a 1947 inquiry from one of its Aroclor customers about possible liver damage, Monsanto referred the customer to Dr. Drinker’s published work, promoting it as the best information available on the subject:

“The best published information about the toxicity of Aroclor vapors with reference to possible damage to the liver is in a series of three articles written for the Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology We particularly wish to refer you to this article entitled, “Further Observations on the Possible Systemic Toxicity of Certain of the Chlorinated Hydrocarbons with Suggestions for Permissible Concentrations in the Air of Workrooms,” by Cecil K. Drinker, The Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, Vol. 21, No. 5, May, 1939.” [Monsanto to Celanese; December 30, 1947 ]

At the conclusion of this letter highlighting Drinker’s findings and praising it as the most accurate available science on PCBs, Monsanto wrote to a customer that:

“Based on our practical experience in the manufacture and sale of millions of pounds of Aroclors annually, the point that we would emphasize is that workers should not be exposed to Aroclor vapors and that the men working with Aroclors should observe “good housekeeping” rules about keeping their clothing and skins free of the material and avoid ingestion of it.” [Monsanto to Celanese; December 30, 1947]

A memo from November 1950 which was sent to Monsanto offices in Anniston, St. Louis (headquarters), London and Newport, England (another PCB production facility) discussed the safety considerations and health issues pertaining to workers in the Aroclor plants. The memo reveals:

“For a time the Aroclor operators had to bathe on leaving work and a change of work clothing was provided, but this practice was discontinued.” [E. Mather November 1950, Process for the manufacture of diphenyl and santowax].

An undated document entitled “The Handling of Aroclors (Chlorinated Diphenyl)” included a paragraph on this subject:

“Personal cleanliness is of utmost importance. Work clothes should be changed daily and must not be worn away from the plant. Before changing to street clothes at the end of the day the workmen should bathe with plenty of soap and warm water. Neglect of these simple precautions may result in skin infections, ill health, discomfort, inefficiency and loss of time.” [The Handling of Aroclors]

The document “Process for the Production of Aroclors, Pyranols, Etc. at the Anniston and at the WM. G. Krummrich Plant” from April 1955 explains that (Note: The Krummrich Plant in Sauget, IL, was Monsanto’s other U.S. PCB production facility besides Anniston):

“From the start of Aroclor manufacture at the Krummrich plant the operators have been supplied a clean change of clothes every day, and time has been allowed at the end of the shift for bathing. Operators are advised to wash hands and face before eating. The Anniston operators do not have the same issue of clean clothes.” [Process for the Production of Aroclors, Pyranols, Etc. at the Anniston and at the WM. G. Krummrich Plant by E. Mather; April 1955]

This document further states that:

“At Anniston, no special protective clothing is provided for the Diphenyl and Aroclors operators. A daily change of clothing was provided in the past but this practice ceased before the war… the men are expected to take a bath, in their own time, at the end of the shift.” [Process for the Production of Aroclors, Pyranols, Etc. at the Anniston and at the WM. G. Krummrich Plant by E. Mather; April 1955]

Monsanto out

This document also mentions that there had been an accident in Monsanto’s UK PCB plant:

“Newport plant report for December 1951 records burns by hot Aroclor-a case of a splash into a man’s eye-without serious damage.” [Process for the Production of Aroclors, Pyranols, Etc. at the Anniston and at the WM. G. Krummrich Plant by E. Mather; April 1955]

In a 1949 inter-office memo, M.N. Strachan of Monsanto wrote to his colleague, Dr. J.W. Barrett, about the company’s published information regarding Aroclor toxicity:

“As far as I know, we only publish one technical service bulletin on Aroclors (G2) and this states: ‘Toxicity- Prolonged exposure to AROCLOR vapours will lead to systemic toxic effects. … acne form skin eruptions… Toxic effects will follow considerable oral ingestion, but this hazard is unlikely to be encountered.” [Strachan to Barrett, 30.8.49 Aroclor Toxicity Summary of References]

A letter dated February 14, 1950 from a Monsanto doctor to the Indiana Board of Health describes a situation in a Brazil, Indiana plant where workers exposed to PCBs had experienced health problems, and it shows that Monsanto was well aware of potential liver problems related to chronic high-level exposure.

“Upon hearing of the illness, one of our development engineers went to the plant and gave his recommendations, and then I called the plant physician to try to obtain some idea of what the illnesses were. As far as I could determine, two men suffered from gastrointestinal upset. I suspected the possibility that the Aroclor fumes might have caused liver damage, but was unable to obtain this information over the phone.” [Kelly MD to Indiana State Board of Health regarding Brazil, Indiana workers sickened by aroclors]

A memo from 1952 concerning an agreement between the U.S. Public Health Service and the manufacturers of chlorinated hydrocarbons (which include PCBs) about labeling requirements reveals an astonishing use of one the company’s most toxic PCBs, which Monsanto referred to as “the prize application.” The memo also referenced cases of chloracne and even deaths associated with exposure to PCBs among workers; and cases of workers’ wives developing skin problems carried home on clothing:

“Back in 1938 or thereabouts, when the Aroclor applications were relatively few and the customers about equally few, there was indeed the prize application of using Aroclor 1254 as a chewing gum plasticizer. The wording of our label would not be compatible with this sort of thing.”“While the toxicity hazard of Aroclor’s fumes is well established and should be thoroughly understood by all, yet, as we go along we find that we are always confronted with violations in one degree or another, and indeed, regard keeping in touch with these things to be a major responsibility in the promotion of Aroclors.”

“Referring to the few deaths and the relatively large number of acne or dermatitis cases arising during the war, in connection with fabricators of Navy cable coating materials using a mixture of Aroclor 4465 and Halowax, there are two things to keep in mind. One is that this combination of chlorinated hydrocarbons is more toxic than the chlorinated biphenyl or terphenyls alone; and secondly, in this program of operations, proper working facilities and cleanliness were overlooked. In fact, the workers’ wives at home even acquired acne and dermatitis which was traced back to the halogenated hydrocarbon compounds.” [P.G. Benignus to T.K. Smith; February 29, 1952]

A document dated September 1, 1953 begins by stating:

“As I am sure you know, Aroclors cannot be considered nontoxic.” [Wheeler to Mather; September 1, 1953]

The same document concludes by explaining that Monsanto was worried about the use of Aroclors in paints that might be used in unventilated areas.

“As you indicated, we are watching the use of the Aroclors as plasticizers in emulsion paints. We do not recommend that they be used in paints which might be applied in confined or unventilated areas, particularly if the paints might be used on heated surfaces. As you stated, this is a case of worrying about the exposure of painters who might apply such materials day in and day out rather than the worrying about those who might occupy the room during or shortly after the paint has been applied.” [Wheeler to Mather; September 1, 1953]

In 1954, a memo from Monsanto Medical Department’s Dr. Emmet Kelly to Dr. N.R. Newman in Monsanto’s Newport, England plant explained that:

“What we were really worrying about was the possibility that a man would develop hepatitis on an idiopathic, viral, or serum basis and on questioning would recall that he had painted a room with Aroclor paint and state that he had smelled it very strongly. I am afraid that we might be convicted by association even though we were sure one could not get a level high enough to cause trouble. We have, however, been concerned with the level of Aroclor during spray painting, but I think that level can only be determined by actual measurements. Please do not worry about asking me these questions because we certainly want you to have the entire picture about Aroclor toxicity.” [Kelly to Newman; February 12, 1954]

Also in 1954, Monsanto learned that one of its customers had had a serious problem with workers’ health because of Aroclor exposure in its plant. Skin problems developed even after “continuous mild exposure.”

“Lesions of chloracne developed in seven workers employed in an organic acid manufacturing plant when Aroclor was used……. An unusual feature of this out break of dermatitis was the long period of exposure before any cases were recognised. Sudden recognition of seven cases after 19 months was a result of the especially careful examination of the exposed employees after discovery of the first case. Of 14 exposed or potentially exposed, seven developed chloracne. The fact that air tests, even in the presence of vapors, showed only negligible amounts of chlorinated hydrocarbons indicates that this type of intermittent but fairly long continued mild exposure is not innocuous.” [1954 Seven Workers Develop Chloracne in Plant Using Aroclor]

Indeed, even decades after these documents were written, Monsanto continued to hear of problematic exposures to workers in its customers’ plants. As a 1976 memo from a Monsanto doctor explains, the chloracne and liver problems remained a serious issue in the workplace even then:

“I told him that his primary concern must be the possibility of chloracne and that I would do liver function studies on these workers in their periodic examinations. I told him that the most important study he could do was to get an analysis of the PCB content in the air and to instruct the workers to wear gloves when there was a chance of skin contact with PCB’s.” [Roush to Weber re: phone call from J.J. Kelly of Transformer Consultants in Akron, Ohio; September 10, 1976]

Furthermore, while Monsanto downplays its severity today, chloracne is a rare acne-like condition caused only by exposure to toxic chemicals. [Chloracne Pictures]. In contrast to Monsanto’s blithe courtroom claim that the condition is “easily treatable,” there is ample evidence that chloracne is resistant to usual acne treatments, leaves ugly scars, and in serious cases it can persist for decades after symptoms first appear. One study revealed that chloracne was still present in some workers 30 years after the original exposure. (Moses, 1984)

Monsanto’s MD Questions Need for Safety Studies

In 1955, Monsanto’s Medical Director, Dr. Emmet Kelly, wrote an internal memo which chastises a colleague for wanting to study Aroclor exposure problems in the workplace more extensively:

“I don’t know how you would get any particular advantage in doing more work. What is it that you want to prove?”

Further down the memo states:

“MCC’s position can be summarized in this fashion. We know Aroclors are toxic but the actual limit has not been precisely defined. It does not make too much difference, it seems to me, because our main worry is what will happen if an individual developes [sic] any type of liver disease and gives a history of Aroclor exposure. I am sure the juries would not pay a great deal of attention to MACs. We, therefore, review every new Aroclor use….. if it is an industrial application… we are much more liberal in the use of Aroclor. If, however, it is distributed to householders where it can be used in almost any shape and form and we are never able to know how much of the concentration they are exposed to, we are much more strict. No amount of toxicity testing will obviate this last dilemma and therefore I do not believe any more testing would be justified.” [Letter from Dr. Kelly to Dr. Barrett Re: Aroclor Toxicity; September 20, 1955]

No Eating in the Aroclor Department

Also in 1955, Monsanto announced its opinion that workers should not eat lunch in the Aroclor department. The document indicates that:

“It is the opinion of the Medical Department that the eating of lunches should not be allowed in this department…. early literature work claimed that chlorinated biphenyls were quite toxic materials by ingestion or inhalation. In any case where a workman claimed physical harm from any contaminated food, it would be extremely difficult on the basis of past literature reports to counter such claims.” [J.T. Garrett to H.B. Patrick; November 14, 1955]

The Navy Rejects Monsanto’s PCBs: “Just too toxic for use”

In 1956, the U.S. Navy considered using one of Monsanto’s products which contained PCBs, called Pydraul 150, as a hydraulic fluid in Navy submarines. But after conducting their own toxicity tests, which showed that skin applications of Pydraul 150 killed all rabbits tested and that a statistical model on inhalation of Pydraul 150 indicated “definite liver damage,” the Navy decided not to use Monsanto’s product due to its potentially harmful effects. In Dr. Kelly’s own words:

“No matter how we discussed the situation, it was impossible to change their thinking that Pydraul 150 is just too toxic for use in a submarine.” [Kelly to Armstrong; January 21, 1957]

The Navy’s decision to do its own toxicity tests, despite having been supplied Monsanto’s tests, greatly bothered a member of Monsanto’s Medical Department, Elmer Wheeler, who wrote on December 26, 1956 to a Monsanto colleague in Washington, D.C.:

“Out of all of this it appears quite certain that in the future we will not spend one nickel to develop toxicity data on hydraulic fluids for the Navy. We will continue to get information to satisfy ourselves that the use of our fluids is safe under any normal foreseeable conditions. This is generally enough to satisfy non-military customers. If the Navy has interest in any of these fluids and wishes to accept them toxicity wise on the information available, they are welcome to do so. If the fluids are not acceptable toxicity wise on the basis of such data, then perhaps we can save a lot of time and effort by advising the Navy to look elsewhere for their requirements. In spite of the tone of the above memo, Emmet [Dr. Kelly] and I wish you the happiest of New Years!” [Wheeler to Sido; December 26, 1956]

Nine months later, Mr. Wheeler wrote the following to another colleague:

“The Navy convinced us that they would not accept Pydraul 150 and probably no other fluid containing chlorine or chlorinated diphenyls. We have not attempted to dissuade [the Navy representative] since it appears to be hopeless. Since the interpretation of toxicity data is quite relative, our interpretation of facts and data would not be sufficient to change their opinions.” [Wheeler to Slayton; September 25, 1957]

Despite all the company knew of the toxic effects of PCBs, Monsanto consistently failed to adequately disclose its full knowledge to its customers. Most customers didn’t take the initiative to run their own tests as the Navy had, and therefore, remained in the dark about the potential danger of exposure to PCBs.

Labeling: “Comply with the minimum”

A December 5, 1958 document explains Monsanto’s disturbing approach toward compliance with labeling laws newly enacted in many states, and explains the company’s reluctance to provide a label proposed by a customer:

“In order to comply with recent changes in labeling laws enacted by several state legislatures, the subject of correct labeling for the Pydrauls has been a great concern to us.This situation was brought forcibly to our attention by a specific request from Socony Mobil that a caution stamp be affixed to all Pydraul which they purchase from Monsanto for resale. We believe the wording which they use on this stamp is not in the best interest of Pydraul sales, and is such that our competition could use to great advantage…..

It is our desire to comply with the necessary regulations, but to comply with the minimum and not to give any unnecessary information which could very well damage our sales position in the synthetic hydraulic fluid field.” [D.F. Smith to R.D. Minteer; December 5, 1958]

A 1959 letter from Dr. Kelly to Monsanto HQ in St. Louis further discusses problems with the Pydraul PCB product line, apparently referring to the difficulty of marketing the product in Germany for use in the food industry:

“I wish I could be as optimistic as you are in stating that “any information you can give us from a medical standpoint will certainly be helpful in promoting the sale of Pydraul AC in Germany.” If these Germans are afraid of mineral oil, I feel they will be rather suspicious of Pydraul AC. After all, the constituents are considerably more toxic than mineral oil.” [Kelly M.D. to O.F. Heasel]

Further down, Dr. Kelly concludes the letter saying:

“I think the Germans are being overcautious in this matter, but I certainly can’t give Pydraul an absolutely clean bill of health, assuming some might get into the food.” [Kelly to Heasel; June 23, 1959]

Suspected Liver Damage

A letter from Dr. Kelly to Mr. Richard Davis at HQ in St. Louis dated February 2, 1961 reveals another case of workers sickened by PCB exposure:

“Yesterday, Mr. Allen of the subject company called and stated he had two employees nauseated from exposure to a leak in a heat transfer unit that used Aroclor 1248. One individual was under the care of a physician and the physician suspected liver damage although no jaundice could be seen (patient a negro) and was not hospitalized.” [Kelly to Allen; February 2, 1961]

A letter from the Hexagon representative to Dr. Kelly dated February 14, 1961 provides more information:

“In reference to our recent telephone conversation, I would like to further discuss the incident wherein two of our plant personnel were exposed to hot Arochlor (1248) vapors generated by a broken pipe connection. For your information and records the two men developed symptoms of Hepatitis as you predicted and were confined to a hospital for approximately two weeks.In view of the above experience which has given me considerable concern I felt that the matter should be brought to your attention. Since we are dealing with a highly toxic material at high temperatures and since these failures cannot be prevented, it is felt that a more thorough and clearly written description of the hazards be described under Safety of Handling. Also the antidote or first aid treatment if any be included. I certainly would be interested in this information if available.

I trust that this matter will be given your serious consideration so that other or new users are fully aware of the problem.” [Allen of Hexagon to Dr. Kelly; February 14, 1961]

A year later, a letter from Dr. Kelly to a doctor with the U.S. Public Health Service in Ohio dated March 15, 1962 fails to mention the chloracne problem and does not mention any of the other exposure incidents that Dr. Kelly was fully aware of:

“As I told you on the telephone, our experience and the experience of our customers over a period of nearly 25 years, has been singularly free of difficulties. To our knowledge, there have been only three instances where chloracne has occurred. In view of the millions of pounds which have been produced and used in many and varied applications, the low frequency of any difficulties has been gratifying….”

Further down:

“I would, however, assume that it has the same toxic character as the lower Aroclors. Therefore, if sufficient material were inhaled, liver problems would develop.” [M. Kelly M.D. to U.S. Public Health Service]

California Right to Know Yes on 37

California Right to Know Yes on 37

Monsanto Favors “Minimum Precautionary Statement”

In 1964, Congress passed the Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act to ensure that toxic substances were properly identified as such on consumer products. A May 27, 1964 memo from Monsanto’s Medical Department explains that Aroclor 1232 would need to be labeled under the new law. It notes that Monsanto would not take responsibility for assuring the proper labeling of its customers’ products containing PCBs, but that it would suggest a “minimum precaution statement.” Their idea of a warning seems more fitting for a bite-sized plastic accessory than a toxic chemical:

“We have several indications that the Aroclors are more toxic when in an oil solution than when administered undiluted to animals.The ultimate responsibility for the proper labeling of a formulation remains with the customer since we cannot be expected to get animal data on every possible formulation containing a Monsanto product. In all the varying concentrations and with the innumerable combinations of other components such as antioxidants, colorants, etc.

The very minimum precautionary statement that I think would be necessary would be:

Caution-Harmful if swallowed.Keep out of the reach of children”

[Wheeler to Nemits; May 27, 1964]

Warning Its PCB Customers

Monsanto was also fielding a lot of questions from its PCB customers who wrote to inquire about the chemical’s toxicity. One customer in particular got an earful from Monsanto:

“[The concerned customer] went on to say that in his own plant Aroclor spills on the floor were common and that his own employees had complained of discomfort. I was brutally frank and told him that this had to stop before he killed somebody with liver or kidney damage– not because of a single exposure necessarily but only to emphasize that 8-hour daily exposures of this type would be completely unsafe.” [Wheeler to Davis; September 3, 1965]

In direct contrast to Monsanto’s current claims of PCBs’ harmlessness, the company advised a concerned customer in a February 2, 1967 letter that:

“…Aroclors can cause damage to the liver as a result of prolonged exposure to the vapour and to the liquid. To the best of our knowledge no fatality has ever been attributed to a chlorinated diphenyl, but in view of the chronic action on the liver we advise that contact with the vapour and liquid must be kept to a minimum.” [Hardy to Border Chemicals Ltd.]

Concerns About Media Coverage

A memo dated February 10, 1967 from Dr. Kelly to Monsanto Europe discussed the concern Monsanto had about the probability that the American public would learn about the PCB problem through the media as the European public had, and also discussed the company’s concern about customer inquiries regarding toxicity:

“We are very worried about what is liable to happen in the states when the various technical and lay news media pick up the subject. This is especially critical at this time because air pollution is getting a tremendous amount of publicity in the United States.We have been receiving quite a few communications from our customers, but the most critical one is NCR, who are very much involved with their carbonless carbon paper.

The consensus in St. Louis is that while Monsanto would like to keep in the background in this problem, we don’t see how we will be able to in the United States. We feel our customers, especially NCR, may ask us for some sort of data concerning the safety of these residues in humans. This obviously might be opening the door to an extensive and quite expensive toxicological/pharmacological investigation.” [Kelly to D. Wood; February 10, 1967]

Monsanto’s Aroclor Ad-Hoc Committee: “We Can’t Afford to Lose One Dollar of Business”

In the late 1960s, Monsanto was continuing to field questions from concerned customers and also struggling with major pollution problems in Anniston. The company became increasingly compelled to defend its PCB products from accusations of harmful effects coming from around the country.

On August 25,1969 Monsanto formed its “Aroclor Ad-hoc Committee” in an effort to defend against governmental and public scrutiny regarding its PCBs. The Committee was charged with assessing the situation and determining how best to protect Monsanto’s global Aroclor market, which had grown into a $22 million a year business, with gross profits of $10 million.

The goal of this committee, it seems, was to do everything possible to enable the continued production and sales of PCBs. Specifically, as the Committee’s first report described in October 1969:

“…an “ad hoc” committee was appointed to prepare a resume of the situation concerning the environmental contamination through the manufacture and use of polychlorinated biphenyls (Aroclors). The objective of the committee was to recommend action that will:
(1) Protect continued sales and profits of Aroclors;
(2) Permit continued development of new uses and sales;
(3) Protect the image of the Organic Division and the Corporation as members of the business community recognizing their responsibilities to prevent and/or control contamination of the global ecosystem.”
[Confidential Report of Aroclor “Ad Hoc” Committee; October 2, 1969]

Monsanto worried that:

“As the alarm concerning the contamination of the environment grows it is almost certain that a number of our customers or their products will be incriminated. The company could be considered derelict, morally if not legally, if it fails to notify all customers of the potential implication.” [Confidential Report of Aroclor “Ad Hoc” Committee; October 2, 1969]

Monsanto recognized the fact that the environmental contamination at its facilities paled in comparison to the widespread contamination caused by the various uses of PCB by the company’s customers. Today, General Electric Co.’s problems in the Hudson River and elsewhere are a prime example.

“Environmental Contamination by Customers: Our in-plant problems are very small vs. problems of dealing with environmental contamination by customers. In one application alone (highway paints), one million lbs/year are used. Through abrasion and leaching we can assume that nearly all of this Aroclor winds up in the environment.”[Minutes of Aroclor Ad Hoc Committee First Meeting; September 5, 1969]

The company realized that the stakes were high in defending itself and its PCB market:

“This is a serious matter, not only from the pollution viewpoint, but also because of the $22M worldwide customer business involved with resultant gross profits of $10M and a net investment of $9M. In addition, there could be possible adverse legal and public relations issues leveled against Monsanto.” [PCB Presentation to Corporate Development Committee]

Another internal document from 1970 put it plainly:

“‘We can’t afford to lose one dollar of business. Our attitude in discussing this subject with our customer will be the deciding factor in our success or failure in retaining all our present business. Good luck.” [Monsanto (St. Louis), “Pollution Letter,”; February 16, 1970]

There were certainly some uses of Aroclors which seemed particularly vulnerable to scrutiny, like use in paints for water storage tanks and swimming pools.

“In the plasticizer use area, the Aroclors may be used in rubber based paints or surface coatings. The uses for these surface coatings include the interior walls of potable water supply storage tanks in some communities. In Europe we have been told that similar paints are widely used for swimming pools. In spite of the low degree of solubility of the PCB’s in water, there are sentiments among the European scientists (and our PCB competitive manufacturers) that such uses may be sources of pollution. Other customer applications or uses which could be suspect include highway marking paints, any of the oil and/or grease lubricant applications, caulking compounds and sealants.”[Confidential Report of Aroclor “Ad Hoc” Committee; October 2, 1969]

PCBs in Detergents

As the list of products that PCBs were used in or had contaminated grew, Monsanto attempted to test each one to determine if there were indeed PCBs in the product. The company quickly accumulated more samples than it could analyze, and was struggling to manage its backlog. Monsanto, therefore, decided not to tell some of its customers that PCBs had been found in their product, choosing to delay until after Monsanto had a chance to confirm it in the company’s labs.

“A case in point is the delay in analyzing thirteen samples from the Inorganic Division. Samples were submitted following the finding that five of five commercially available electric dishwashing compounds analyzed showed the presence of PCB’s. The Inorganic Division can not exonerate the products it sells to the detergent manufacturers until it has some data showing whether or not Monsanto supplied materials are contaminated. In the meantime Inorganic Division Quality Control has suggested to its Division Engineering that future designs for making detergent components insure that the use of Aroclors will not permit contamination. Secondly, it is obvious that the Division cannot approach its detergent manufacturing customers about their potential problems until the above data indicate that ‘our own skirts are clean.'” [Confidential Report of Ad Hoc Committee; October 2, 1969]

The Committee’s report painted a grim picture of its prospects for successfully saving the more highly chlorinated PCB product line from fatal scrutiny:

“The committee believes there is little probability that any action that can be taken will prevent the growing incrimination of specific polychlorinated biphenyls (the higher chlorinated-e.g. Aroclors 1254 and 1260) as nearly global environmental contaminants leading to contamination of human food (particularly fish), the killing of some marine species (shrimp), and the possible extinction of several species of fish eating birds.” [Confidential Report of Aroclor “Ad Hoc” Committee; October 2, 1969]

“When are we going to tell our customers?”

Monsanto Kills

In an internal memo dated January 29, 1970 with the subject “Status of Aroclor Toxicological Studies” Monsanto’s Emmet Wheeler reported about the company’s recent animal studies:

“Our interpretation is that the PCB’s are exhibiting a greater degree of toxicity in this chronic study than we had anticipated. Secondly, although there are variations depending on species of animals, the PCB’s are about the same as DDT in mammals. We have additional interim data which will perhaps be more discouraging. We are repeating some of the experiments to confirm or deny the earlier findings and are not distributing the early results at this time.” [Wheeler to Cameron; January 29, 1970]


PCBs in Animal Feed

A March 30, 1970 letter from Dr. Kelly to W.B. Papageorge of Monsanto discusses a problem in Ohio that had Monsanto worried and wondering what to tell its customers using paints containing Aroclors:

“We have been in communication with a Dr. Hill of the Ohio State Board of Health. He has found PCB, particularly Aroclor 1254, in samples of milk from at least three herds in Ohio. He has traced this contamination back to silage from three different silos. Dr. Hill reported concentrations of 0.2 ppm of PCB in the silage in the center of the silo and up to 20 ppm in the material next to the walls. He also stated that concentration in the milk were between 0.1 ppm and 0.6 ppm and that some of the milk had been destroyed.The silos are concrete silos whose interior surfaces were painted in 1967 using a formulation that contained 1254. I don’t know if there was any other Aroclor in the formulation nor do we know the coating manufacturer; although, this could be found out if important. The presence of PCB in the silage came from flaking off of the material and possibly from leaching out during the silage storage. At present they will have to destroy about 150 tons of silage which is valued at about $30 a ton. As a rough guess, they consider there may be 50 other silos involved in Ohio that were painted with the same formulation. They are also looking into the fat contamination of the cows themselves.

All in all, this could be quite a serious problem, having legal and publicity overtones.

This brings us to a very serious point. When are we going to tell our customers not to use any Aroclor in any paint formulation that contacts food, feed, or water for animals or humans? I think it is very important that this be done.” [Kelly to Papageorge; March 30, 1970]

A week later, Dr. Kelly wrote again to W.B. Papageorge, explaining that the FDA and/or USDA was considering setting tolerance levels for PCBs in milk and fat of animals, but that he had been unable to find out who within the government he should talk to in order to find out more about the subject:

“…At present, I am at a dead end as far as finding out anything from the FDA or Department of Agriculture. I am not so sure whether it might not do more harm than good for us to start poking around to find out. Let me know if anyone has any firm convictions that I should start digging.” [Kelly to Papageorge; April 7, 1970]

By October 1970, the executives at Monsanto’s Headquarters office in St. Louis were coming to grips with the fact that their PCB customers were still largely in the dark about the problems with the product. Though the company had already withdrawn some Aroclor plasticizer products from the market, many Aroclor products remained, and the company recognized that they needed to get the word out to customers if they hoped to have a credible defense in case of lawsuits.

“It was emphasized that that we must continue to emphasize to all remaining users of PCB’s the importance of preventing escape to the environment and we must ensure that these warnings are fully documented so that they will support the action we have taken in this area should we become involved in legal actions.” [Papageorge to various employeesl; October 6, 1970]

Monsanto continued to defend its Aroclor line of products, and sought to prolong the sale of PCBs despite having plenty of indication that this chemical was harmful to human health and the environment. As this document [September 9, 1969 Memo] describes, Monsanto’s strategy for dealing with its PCB contamination problems seems to have focused only on how to protect the company’s bottom line and to guard against liability for the pollution.

A September 29, 1976 Monsanto document provides insight into the company’s approach to disclosing information about the toxicity of PCBs even after it ceased production of Aroclors in Anniston:

Note: If a question comes up about carcinogenicity, use the following statement which you may attribute to George Roush, M.D., Director of Monsanto’s Medical and Environmental Health Department:

We have seen nothing in our preliminary health studies with our PCB workers or, indeed, in our extensive long-term feeding studies with animals that would indicate that PCBs are carcinogenic.

General Recommendations:

(1) Avoid any comments that suggest liability.
(2) Avoid any medical questions if possible.
(3) Do not offer information on MCS 1238 or our development program. If a question comes up, say our development work was shelved in the late spring when it became obvious that our proprietary approach would not enable us to compete with the commodity type alternates being pursued by industry.
(4) Make NO comments about the U.S. law suits that have been recently publicized.
(5) Make no comments on the PCBs in mothers’ milk stories that have been circulating in the U.S. press.
(6) Feel free to use any of the information contained in the attached U.S. press release but avoid lifting phrases out of context.”

[Bishop and Wood, Monsanto; September 29, 1976]

PCB production in Anniston officially ceased on May 1, 1972 (liquid Aroclor production ceased at Anniston in August 1971, while solid Aroclor production ceased in May of 1972). [Jessee to EPA; July 5, 1972; AWIC to Jessee; November 13, 1972] However, PCB production would continue at Monsanto’s other U.S. plant in Sauget, IL until 1977.


Moses, M., Lilis, R. Crow, K.D., Thornton, J., Fischbein, A., Anderson, H.A., and Selikoff, I.J. (1984) “Health status of workers with past exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin in the manufacture of 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Comparison of findings with and without chloracne.” American Journal of Industrial Medicine 5:161-82.

Joanne Crowther’s Story: Beating lymphoma with Cannabis Oil

•March 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Ganja Farmer's Emerald Triangle News:

Amazing Story! Cannabis Heals!

Originally posted on Patients for Medical Cannabis:

Published on Mar 20, 2015

This is Joanne Crowther’s Story on how she beat Large B-cell lymphoma with Cannabis Oil. In the summer of 2009 Joanne was diagnosed with large B-cell lymphoma. The lymphoma was eliminated with chemotherapy in February 2010. The treatment caused significant nausea, vomiting, febrile neutropenia (fever resulting from abnormally low white blood cell count), and pneumonia requiring hospitalization.

In March 2010, a brain MRI revealed several cancerous lesions. These were resolved by April 2010 with whole brain radiation, as indicated by a post-treatment MRI. For a year-and-a-half, Joanne was doing very well, even participating in a half-marathon. However, in November 2011, a mass developed in her left thigh. Doctors removed the 3.2 x 2.5cm mass, and determined it was consistent with diffuse large B-cell inter-vascular lymphoma.

The removal of this mass did not eliminate the lymphoma. In early January 2012, Joanne began receiving medications to treat…

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Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution

•March 19, 2015 • 2 Comments

On the eighth International Permaculture Convergence over 200 permaculture design course graduates and their mentors have gathered in Brazil.

Together, they unite 43 countries in the common goal of preparing for and mitigating our looming global crisis. Their strategy’s clear: Create sustainability now through self-reliance.

The eighth International Permaculture Convergence, a journey called IPC8, spans across rural and urban Brazil, focusing on four education centers, thriving permaculture communities designed for the creation of clean energy.

Part of the permaculture design system is a practice called zoning, the correct placement of things to afford minimal energy input and maximum output. Permaculture is design. It’s not just organic. It’s design, and if the design element isn’t there, it may be green, it may be organic, may be environmentally sound, but it isn’t permaculture.

Beginning where the most input is required, the home is zone zero. If you have all the materials, in eight days, you can lift the house up. You can also attach a greenhouse to it if you need to cool the house down and use that moisture, or you could attach a glass house to heat it up.

If in permaculture we can provide really good models of all the systems that we’ve developed, and build good houses that are emergy efficient, that use renewable energies, that have really good sanitation systems, biological systems that are part of the overall design, we can really cut back on a lot of resource use. If we provide that to business as a way that they can continue to make money, but that they can look at it in a different way, we’ve gone a long way to turn around what is a problem into something that’s beneficial.

Around the home lies zone one, an area set aside for the growth of vegetables, herbs, and medicinal plants. But, absolutely nothing would grow for a long time until we can manage to convince the ants to occupy other areas of the place. This is what all is about, to get good soil areas that ants will not bother, and then you can grow small amounts of food in small spaces and then build from that. If you try large scale, almost always the ants will win, and you’re going to feel like they’re working against you.

Under Cover Farmers – Cover Cropping

•February 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Under Cover Farmers learn about multi-species cover crops and how they were able to realize economic returns on their investment in the first year by spring planting and rolling over cover crops into their fields.  Old World Natural Farming Practices  were far better for the health of the crops and health of the soil than conventional chemical & mono-crop farming. We do not advocate or condone the use of herbicides to terminate cover crops, but the rest of this films information is amazingly informational.

Cover Crop Clover

Reforesting the Emerald Triangle: Establishing a Food Forest the Permaculture Way

•February 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Geoff Lawton of Permaculture Institute shows us how to establish a Food Forest the Permaculture Way

Geoff Lawton

Geoff Lawton


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