SEATTLE (AP) – The agrochemical giant Monsanto has agreed to pay the state of Washington $ 95 million to settle a lawsuit blaming it for the ubiquitous pollution from PCBs – toxic industrial chemicals that have been planting for decades, fish and people all over the world.
Washington’s attorney general Bob Ferguson announced on Wednesday when Bayer, who took over Monsanto two years ago, said it would pay 820 million to solve PCB pollution claims and up to $ 10.9 billion for many claims , both current and future, to resolve due to contamination from or exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.
PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls have been used in many industrial and commercial applications, including paint, coolants, sealants and hydraulic fluids. Based in St. Louis, Monsanto produced them from 1935 to 1977, two years before they were banned by Congress.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, PCBs have been shown to cause a variety of health problems, including animal cancer and effects on the immune, nervous, and reproductive systems.
Numerous cities, including Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, and Portland, Oregon, have sued Monsanto for PCB cleanup charges, and in 2016, Ferguson made Washington the first state to sue Monsanto for PCB contamination in rivers, lakes, and bays. Others, including Oregon and Ohio, have since filed suit.
Cases allege that Monsanto was aware of the dangers that PCBs posed for decades, but hid these risks as it continued to benefit from their sales. The chemicals continue to compromise the health of protected salmon and killer whales, despite the tens of millions of dollars spent by Washington State to clean up the pollution.
“Washington has borne the health and environmental costs of PCB contamination and cleanup for decades,” Ferguson said in a news release. “This record payment holds Monsanto responsible for the damage they have done to our state.”
In 1937, an internal memo from Monsanto said that animal studies showed “systemic toxic effects” through prolonged exposure by inhaling PCB vapors or ingestion. In 1969, a PCB business committee noted, “There is too much need for customers / markets and selfishly too much profit from Monsanto to go out.”
Nevertheless, Monsanto told the whole country the opposite. In a letter to the New Jersey Department of Conservation that year, Monsanto wrote, “Based on available data, production and user experience, we do not believe PCBs are seriously toxic.”
In its announcement, Monsanto said it paid $ 170 million to solve lawsuits filed by Washington, New Mexico and Washington, DC
Ferguson said at least $ 60 million of Washington’s share would go to the state’s general fund; $ 2 million would cover the legal costs of the state; $ 10 million would support the agency’s environmental protection work; and $ 21 million would go to the external advisor because of the complexity of the case.
Monsanto said it would pay $ 650 million separately to a class of local governments with claims of PCB pollution – a settlement that requires federal court approval. Spokane was one of the main plaintiffs.
“This national resolution will provide more than 2,500 local communities with money for monitoring, mitigation and remediation efforts to manage PCBs in rainwater, stormwater systems, sediments, and water bodies,” said Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward.
But Dan Nolte, a spokesman for the Seattle prosecution, said Seattle would opt out of such a class and continue his lawsuit, which will go to trial next year. Any settlement should be in proportion to the hundreds of millions of dollars in cleaning costs the city has incurred, Nolte said.
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