By the end of 2020, Bayer AG, the German pharmaceutical giant that acquired Monsanto’s product line and the company’s legal liabilities for $63 billion in 2018, was facing over 2,500 PCB lawsuits filed by U.S. states, municipalities and port authorities. A federal judge rejected Bayer’s plan to resolve PCB lawsuits for $650 million. Now, another state has joined the ranks of those filing PCB lawsuits. Delaware is suing Monsanto and two of its subsidiaries for long-lasting ecological damage, NPR affiliate WHYY reported last week.
A synthetic class of chemicals, polychlorinated biphenyls, better known as PCBs, were banned by Congress in 1978. However, the chemicals can remain in the environment, including waterways, for decades.
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings suggested that Monsanto knew, or should have known, that as early as 1937, PCBs released into the environment could cause significant harm, posing a risk to wildlife and humans.
But even as the risks of PCBs released into the environment became clearly established, Monsanto not only continued to manufacture the toxic chemicals, the company ramped up production of PCBs, the lawsuit claims. As a consequence of decades of deploying PCB chemicals into the environment, Delaware taxpayers are footing the bill for the cleanup, Jennings stated.
PCBs were most often used in mechanical equipment such as hydraulic- and insulation-fluids. In addition, they were used in electrical equipment as well as paint and caulking, WHYY reported.
Jennings is seeking a jury trial in the state as well as an unspecified amount of punitive damages. In addition, the state would like to see Monsanto ordered to pay for cleanup measures.
Government entities, including the CDC and EPA have established that PCBs are potential cancer-causing agents, with the former agency having established that it is known to cause cancer in animals; the latter has declared it a probable human carcinogen. Delaware state environmental authorities have urged caution against eating large servings of fish caught in certain waterways that have been polluted by PCBs.