LOS ANGELES – The city of Los Angeles is suing Monsanto and two other companies over past and future costs of tackling water pollution with long-banned chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, the city prosecutor said Monday.
City Attorney Mike Feuer told a news conference near City Hall that durable PCBs have been used in many products and applications for decades and are associated with a wide range of adverse health effects, including cancer.
The lawsuit was filed March 4 in the Los Angeles County Supreme Court and named Monsanto Co., as well as two others, Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia LLC, which are the result of a series of corporate acquisitions and consolidations that have singled out Monsanto’s original business, Feyer’s office said.
The lawsuit seeks reimbursement of past costs incurred by the city in cleaning up PCB contamination, and an anti-emission fund for future expenses. Foyer did not specify the amount in dollars.
“The city has spent millions and millions of dollars so far and will continue to spend millions and millions of dollars to address the problem,” he said.
For decades, printed circuit boards have been used in industrial and electrical equipment, hydraulic fluids, fire-fighting products, paper products, inks and inks. They were banned in the United States in 1979 under the Toxic Substances Control Act, but remain the subject of widespread litigation.
Monsanto produced 99% of the printed circuit boards used or sold in the United States between 1929 and 1977, according to a lawsuit filed by the city’s attorney.
Feuer said that despite the ban, stormwater and sewage systems continue to divert PCBs to Los Angeles Harbor, Santa Monica Bay, lakes and other waterways, and soils associated with those areas.
“We had to dig the soil out of places, for example,” he said.
Eating fish or swimming could lead to exposure to PCBs, Feuer said, but he did not determine how much the exposure would increase health risks.
“It’s time for Monsanto to clean up and pay,” he said.
Monsanto is now a subsidiary of Bayer AG. Pharmacia is a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., and Solutia is a subsidiary of Eastman Chemical Co. has sent emails asking to comment on all parent companies on the lawsuit claims.
In a statement, Bayer said it was considering the lawsuit and believed it was unfounded.
“Monsanto voluntarily stopped the legal production of PCBs more than 40 years ago and has never produced, used or disposed of PCBs in Los Angeles waters, and therefore should not be held responsible for the pollution that the city believes,” the statement said. .
“When it was determined that these cleanings were necessary, the federal and state authorities used an effective system to identify dischargers and distribute cleaning responsibilities,” Bayer added. “Such litigation, which is stirring up the city, risks undermining these efforts.”
Pfizer spokeswoman Pamela Eisele said in an email that the alleged activities in question preceded the acquisition of Pfizer Pharmacia, and noted that Pfizer was not the accused.
“Under the Separation Agreement between Monsanto and Pharmacia, Monsanto is obliged to compensate Pharmacia for any obligations, primarily related to the Monsanto hereditary agricultural or chemical company,” Eisel wrote.
Eastman did not react immediately.
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