Monsanto sued for PCB pollution


This video from the USA says about itself:

PCB Lawsuit Against Monsanto – Gomez Ecolawyers

30 November 2015

An explanation of our PCB lawsuit against Monsanto.

By Genevieve Leigh in the USA:

West Coast US cities sue Monsanto over toxic chemicals

3 February 2016

Last week, Seattle, Washington became the latest addition to the list of cities filing lawsuits against multinational corporation Monsanto, joining San Diego, San Jose, Oakland and Berkeley in California, along with Spokane, Washington. These efforts, led by San Diego-based law firm Gomez Trial Attorneys, aim to extract tens of millions of dollars from the agrochemical company for knowingly promoting the severely hazardous line of polychlorinated biphenyls, more commonly known as PCBs.

The Seattle lawsuit holds the corporation responsible for PCB contamination that finds its way into the city’s stormwater that flows into the Lower Duwamish River, designated a federal Superfund site because of its high levels of pollution and the high cost of cleanup.

These lawsuits are based on a precedent set last year in a California case against lead paint manufacturers in which the prosecution, after a 12-year legal battle, won a $1.15 billion judgment using a new application of California’s “public nuisance” law. Under the ruling, liability was imposed against the defendant companies because they had actively sold and promoted lead paint with actual or constructive knowledge about its health hazards. Through this same framework it has become possible to build a case against Monsanto for actions taken over 50 years ago.

In previous legal suits, (namely in Alabama, where the company had a chemical production plant), evidence was produced from internal Monsanto reports dating to the 1960s and 1970s. The reports confirmed the company’s knowledge that PCBs were causing health problems in its workforce and becoming an environmental contaminant. The company, however, continued to produce the profitable compounds.

Monsanto has faced numerous attacks over the past few decades for its alleged disregard for society and the environment. The company, along with Dow Chemical, was known for its production of Agent Orange during the Vietnam war as well as its role in the development of nuclear weapons under the Manhattan Project.

In an effort to create a better public image and avoid liabilities from its industrial chemical business, Monsanto spun off its industrial chemical and fiber divisions into a company called Solutia in 1997. For their part, officials from Monsanto claim that the company has been exclusively focused on agriculture over the past decade and has no responsibility in the current lawsuit for the chemicals produced and sold by the company that was initially formed in 1901.

Manufacturing of PCBs began in 1929. The chemicals were largely produced in the post-war period as wartime chemical companies refocused their attention on domestic uses. In the next four decades, close to 600,000 tons of the toxins were produced in the United States almost exclusively by Monsanto, until their ultimate prohibition by US Congress in 1979. Production of PCBs continued by other companies in various parts of the world until the 1990s. These chemicals were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications, including transformers, paints, caulk, flame retardants and pesticides, just to name a few.

As a result of their tendency to spread quickly and easily through air, water, river sediments, and animal ingestion, the contaminants have been found in virtually every corner of the world, including the Arctic, where the polar bear population was affected.

In areas with high concentrations of PCBs, which include but are not limited to the major cities involved in the lawsuits, overwhelming populations of fish, birds and mammals were found to have levels of “chronic toxicity.” This condition has resulted in developmental complications, reproductive failure and mass death rates, causing major disruptions in many ecosystems, most notably in San Francisco Bay.

The unique set of properties of PCBs, namely their non-flammability, chemical and thermal stability and high boiling point, means they do not readily break down once released into the environment. These chemicals tend to build up in animal fat, with increasing density going up the food chain, often ending in human consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged that ingestion of products with high levels of PCBs, in addition to causing cancer, also have been proven to cause neurological disorders, and toxic effects on the human immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system.

It should be noted however that the lawsuits will not demand any reparations for the people affected by these toxins, but instead will be limited to monetary compensation exclusively for local governments to use in a limited cleanup of environmental damage.

8 thoughts on “Monsanto sued for PCB pollution

  1. Monsanto’s glyphosate weedkiller is everywhere, providing much of the mega-corporation’s revenue. So when UN experts said it likely causes cancer, 1.5 million of us called to ban it! With Europe set to re-approve its licence for 15 years, Avaaz delivered our petition and thousands of us sent urgent messages to our governments. In the final hour, support collapsed, and the EU commission was forced to postpone the vote! We’ll keep the pressure up until we get the ban our planet needs.

    “The Avaaz campaign helped to raise awareness and concern of the general public about glyphosate. This helped me as a parliamentarian to work on this issue… Stay with us in this fight”
    – Pavel Poc, MEP and Vice Chair of the Environment, Health and Food Safety Committee for the European Parliament.

    Like

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