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Atrazine suit filed -- without Hillsboro

Council will review decision to join lawsuit

Staff writer

The City of Hillsboro is notably absent from the list of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit regarding the herbicide atrazine in water supplies.

Dallas-based law firm Baron and Budd, P.C., filed the lawsuit against Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. and Syngenta AG March 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Hillsboro City Council voted March 17, 2009, to join the lawsuit, but the city isn’t among the 17 listed plaintiffs from Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, and Iowa.

Plaintiffs in Kansas include the cities of Marion, Carbondale, Dodge City, Oswego, Plains, and Miami County Rural Water District No. 2.

Hillsboro’s absence is explained by the City Council’s decision to review whether to join the lawsuit. Council members plan to meet with Baron and Budd representatives and third-party researchers this spring, City Administrator Larry Paine said.

The firm omitted the city from the plaintiffs because it would be easier to add the city than to remove it from the suit, he said.

Atrazine is a herbicide used in corn, soybean, and sorghum fields for pre-emergence broadleaf weed control and is manufactured by Syngenta.

The lawsuit contends Syngenta is liable for atrazine contamination in public water supplies, causing health problems. The Environmental Protection Agency limits atrazine in water supplies to 3.0 parts-per-billion (ppb).

Tests have shown Hillsboro’s water to have anywhere from 0.5 to 1.2 ppb since 1995, Paine said in 2009. Over the same time, Marion’s water has had atrazine levels from 0.4 to 1.1 ppb.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from Syngenta. If the lawsuit is successful, Baron and Budd will receive 33 percent of any monetary award, plus expenses.

Last modified March 17, 2010

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