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25 Sep 2023

Zane McNeill, Truthout

USA: City of Chicago files lawsuit against Monsanto over pervasive PCB pollution in the Chicago River

"Chicago Sues Monsanto for “Widespread Contamination” of the Chicago River", 25 Sept 2023

Chicago is suing the Monsanto Corporation for producing cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The complaint filed in Cook County court last week alleges that the company caused “widespread contamination” across the banks and sediment of the Chicago River which the city continues to bear the cost of cleaning up.

The Monsanto Corporation was the sole producer of PCBs, which were used in electrical equipment and other industrial applications, in the United States from the 1930s through 1977. While the U.S. banned the production of PCBs more than 40 years ago because the chemicals are harmful to human and environmental health, PCBs continue to be released into the Chicago waterways through stormwater.

“For decades, Monsanto knew that its commercial PCB formulations were highly toxic and would inevitably produce precisely the contamination and human health risks that have occurred. Yet Monsanto intentionally misled the public,” the complaint says.

PCBs are linked to a number of potential health threats, including cancer...

“The accumulation of PCBs in natural resources, and fish in particular, poses a public health threat to Chicago residents,” the suit says...

As a result of the contamination, Chicago is being required by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce PCB contamination in stormwater that is discharged to Lake Michigan by an estimated 99.6%.

“These violations [by Monsanto] have caused and will cause the City to incur costs reasonably related to these violations of law. These costs include the costs of cleaning up contaminated sites and reducing PCB concentrations in the City’s stormwater,” the lawsuit says...

In a statement, a Monsanto representative told CBS News Chicago that the case is “meritless” and “the company never manufactured or disposed of PCBs in or near the Chicago area.” The company claims the chemicals were instead manufactured by unnamed “third parties,” although the company’s relationship with these firms remains unclear...