(NaturalNews) In recent days, Portland, Oregon’s city council voted unanimously to authorize city attorney Tracy Reeve to sue Monsanto for polluting two of the city’s main waterways, The Columbia Slough and Willamette River, with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
PCBs are a group of highly toxic, cancer-causing chemicals that pose a serious threat to human and environmental health. They linger for many decades in the environment. According to mayor Charlie Hales, Portland has already spent over a billion dollars of public money to clean up the contamination in both rivers.
Portland will be the seventh city on the West Coast to file such a federal lawsuit against Monsanto. Other cities include Seattle, Spokane, Berkeley, Oakland, San Diego and San Jose.
Monsanto was the sole U.S. manufacturer of PCBs
According to Tracy Reeve, Monsanto’s own documents show that the company continued its sales, even after they knew of the risks PCBs posed for human and environmental health. She claims that there is documentary evidence confirming that Monsanto knew that PCBs lead to contamination of fish, oysters and birds.
Before making the switch to agriculture, Monsanto was the only manufacturer of PCBs, which brought in an estimate of $22 million in business a year.
“Monsanto was the only manufacturer of PCB’s in the United States from 1939 until PCBs were banned in the late 70s,” said Reeve. “During that time there’s documentary evidence that Monsanto knew that PCBs were dangerous to the environment, that they migrated from waterways to fish, from fish to birds and also to people and they, nonetheless, continued to manufacture and distribute PCBs.”
In 1979, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took action and banned all PCBs due to their links to birth defects, skin and liver issues, and cancer. According to the EPA, 150 million pounds of PCBs are still dispersed throughout the environment, and an additional 290 million pounds can be found in landfills.
Reeve notes that Monsanto needs to be held accountable for its apparent decision to favor profits over ecological and human health. For years, they poisoned the environment and made huge profits from selling PCBs, and should take full responsibility for cleaning up the mess.
Monsanto denies all responsibility
After being sued by seven cities, Monsanto stated that it could not be held responsible, and released the following statement:
“We are reviewing the lawsuit and its allegations. However, Monsanto is not responsible for the costs alleged in this matter. Monsanto today, and for the last decade, has been focused solely on agriculture, but we share a name with a company that dates back to 1901.
“That company manufactured and sold PCBs that at the time were a lawful and useful product that were then incorporated by third parties into other useful products. Various municipalities built landfills on their bays and operated them for decades to deposit city waste and PCB-containing products into those waterfront landfills. Manufacturing and industrial facilities also operated in these areas, contributing to PCBs in the general area. If the third-party disposal or municipal disposal practices of the past have led four decades later to the state’s development of lawful limits on future PCB discharges into various bays and rivers through storm water, then those third parties and municipal landfill operators bear responsibility for these additional costs.”
The seven lawsuits were filed separately, but will be represented by the same two law firms, the California-based Gomez Trial Lawyers, and Texas-based Baron & Budd. The firms plan a motion to ask that one judge handles all seven cases.
Unfortunately, Monsanto’s henchmen have penetrated all layers of society, and they might, once again, get away with it. The New York Times reported last month that the House and Senate have inserted a new clause in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) re-authorization bill. This would effectively exempt Monsanto from all liability for injuries caused by PCBs.
“If Monsanto gets its way, the American people will pay a high price for corporate greed and political corruption,” Environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said.
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Written by Amy Goodrich
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