The State of Maryland has filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against agrichemical company Monsanto, claiming the company manufactured toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) fully aware they’re harmful to the environment
The lawsuit says that Monsanto continuously manufactured and sold PCBs despite knowing as early as 1937 that PCBs were toxic to humans and animals and that could escape and contaminate.
The production and sales of the toxic chemicals only stopped because they were finally banned under federal law with Monsanto’s own internal documents showing afterward that its only concern was to protect its balance sheet, not people or the environment.
The lawsuit, which also includes as plaintiffs pharmaceutical and biotechnical company Pharmacia and chemicals manufacturer Solutia, claims, citing water quality data from 2018, that approximately 968 square miles of the estuarine waters, 262 miles of rivers and streams, 3,147 acres of the lakes and reservoirs as well as large areas of land in Maryland’s ecosystem are still polluted with PBCs.
Before their manufacturing was banned in 1979, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PCBs – which can cause cancer in animals and are a probable carcinogen for humans – were used in various commercial applications.
Though the lawsuit filed by Maryland’s Attorney General Brian Frosh does not specify an amount the state is seeking, it points that it’s time for Monsanto to take full responsibility, asking the court to award damages – including possible punitive damages – based on the proof to be presented in court.
Monsanto has already faced other complaints about PCB pollution and has received settlements, agreeing last year to pay $820 million to hundreds of local governments, the states of Washington and New Mexico as well as the District of Columbia.
The bill was footed by Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company which bought Monsanto in 2018 for more than $60 billion, but claims that Maryland’s complaint lacks merit since Monsanto never manufactured, used, or disposed of PCBs into Maryland’s lands or waters.