Washington on Thursday became the first U.S. state to sue the agrochemical giant Monsanto over pervasive pollution from PCBs, the toxic industrial chemicals that have accumulated in plants, fish and people around the globe for decades. Creve Coeur-based Monsanto says the case “lacks merit.”
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the lawsuit at a news conference in downtown Seattle, saying they expect to win hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars from the company.
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were used in many industrial and commercial applications, including in paint, coolants, sealants and hydraulic fluids. Monsanto produced them from 1935 until Congress banned them in 1979. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PCBs have been shown to cause a variety of health problems, including cancer in animals as well as effects on the immune, nervous and reproductive systems.
Washington’s lawsuit seeks damages on several grounds, including product liability for what it described as Monsanto’s failure to warn about the danger of PCBs; negligence; and even trespass, for injuring the state’s natural resources.
Ferguson said his office had been in touch with counterparts in other states, but it remained unclear if other states would follow Washington’s lead in suing the company.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch