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Following a truck accident last month in South Dakota, concerns have emerged that chemical ingredients contained in Roundup, XtendiMax and Acenit have spilled into the Big Sioux River.
The accident reportedly occurred near Estelline on June 26, when a truck rolled over and spilled 900 gallons of various different herbicides, according to a story by South Dakota News Watch. These included glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup; as well as dicamba and acetochlor.
The incident sparked an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which said that the river’s flow likely dispersed the chemicals so that they do not pose a health threat. Officials with the EPA say the chemicals are no longer present in the river at this time.
However, the EPA only considers acetochlor to be a probable carcinogen, despite international organizations and independent scientists who say glyphosate is a cancer-causing agent as well. This means it is unclear whether the EPA would have ruled the spill a higher threat to the river and nearby community if it had considered glyphosate a cancer-causing agent.
Several regional water systems draw from an aquifer fed by the Big Sioux River. On June 27, Sioux Falls cut off drinking water wells near the river and tested its treated water for the herbicides, but none were found.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that glyphosate is likely a cancer-causing agent. In particular, the report linked the side effects of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Bayer and its Monsanto subsidiary, which was acquired one year ago, now face more than 15,000 Roundup lawsuits in the United States, brought by farmers, landscapers, groundskeepers and other users of the controversial glyphosate-based weedkiller, alleging that the manufacturer withheld information for years about the known risk of cancer.
While Bayer continues to maintain that glyphosate is safe, following high-profile losses in the first three cases to go to trial, where juries determined that Roundup was a substantial cause in non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosed among users of the weedkiller, and each case resulted in a massive damages award. As a result, pressure is mounting on the company to reach settlements for Roundup claims, with a number of additional cases being prepared for trial.