Bayer and Monsanto have settled a lawsuit with Oregon, agreeing to pay the state almost $700 million over PCB pollution allegations.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are toxic compounds formerly used in many applications, from coolants to copy machines and fluorescent light bulbs. Monstanto is the only company ever to manufacture PCBs in the United States, a factor which helped lead to their chemical and agricultural hegemony today. They ceased that manufacture in 1977, a year before they were banned by federal law in 1978.
They are considered Persistent Organic Pollutants, which means they don’t degrade in any meaningful time-frame, and are known to cause cancer. Due to their widespread use for over 90 years in the U.S., they are a still-troublesome part of landfills, older homes, and parks and schools.
In 2018, the state of Oregon filed a lawsuit against Bayer and Monsanto, for the continuing damage and risks of PCBs in Oregon’s population and environment.
“Monsanto’s toxic legacy unfortunately lives on in our lands, rivers and other waterways — and poses ongoing risks to the health of our people and our environment,” said Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon’s Attorney General. “This is all the more reason why this settlement is so vitally important. Oregon and Oregonians will be the better for it.”
The settlement does not include any admission of further liabilty or of wrongdoing by Monsanto, according to a statement by Bayer, which owns the company.
“The settlement terms reflect the unique challenges and trial procedures in this Oregon venue even though Monsanto voluntarily ceased production of PCBs in 1977 and never manufactured, used or disposed of PCBs in Oregon,” it said.
Two other states, Washington and Vermont, are also currently suing Bayer and Monsanto over PCB-related pollution and toxicity in public school buildings, and attorneys believe they are the tip of an iceberg.