"Bad Chemistry" A sneak preview of this APR news special report
“My brother Terry, he had an enlarged heart. His heart got as large as a half gallon bucket...a brain tumor, and cancer of the lungs," said Anniston activist David Baker.
He recalled how, in addition to cancer, Monsanto chemicals called PCBs also caused birth defects among his neighbors.
And, PCBs weren't the only chemical products manufactured by Monsanto. APR news visited the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center to talk about how the company also made a certain herbicide during the Vietnam War.
“And, so when I got diabetes, I didn't know that was Agent Orange,” said U.S. Army veteran Woody Washington.
“And that's how it was in Vietnam,” he recalled. “It was a lot of jungle stuff. And it would be wet. We didn't know that it was full of herbicide, we had no idea.
And, the Pentagon says 117,000 veterans in Alabama may have been exposed. There are other examples of industrial chemicals that Alabamians say are ruining their health right now.
“I have asthma…kidney failure…and other stuff,” said Angela Smith of Birmingham. She lives in the shadow of the Bluestone Coke Plant. She and her neighbors say smoke from the factory is making them sick. bluestone has been closed for two years and critics say it's still violating federal pollution laws.
Coal ash is another concern in Alabama. It's the pollution leftover from power plants as they generate electricity. The ash contains mercury, lead and arsenic.
“The trees in that area looks like snow tipped trees with gray dust,” said Ben Eaton of Uniontown.
APR News spoke with residents of this community in Alabama’s Black Belt region eight years ago about this. They say coal ash is being shipped to their community to this day, and it's still causing health issues.
“Kidney problems nerve problems, breathing problems,” Eaton said.
APR news will look at these issues during our program we call Bad Chemistry. In Anniston, the harm allegedly caused by PCBs didn't impact just one generation but many. We start off with the story of one family in particular.