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Maine attorney general sues Monsanto for PCB contamination

Maine is the latest state to sue Monsanto for PCB contamination.
Maine is the latest state to sue Monsanto for PCB contamination.

Maine's attorney general is suing Monsanto for manufacturing and selling products containing polychlorinated biphenyl products, or PCBs, despite knowing that the chemicals were toxic to humans, wildlife and the environment.

The federal government banned PCBs in the late 1970s, which Monsanto had been manufacturing since 1929.

"They are the responsible party for PCB contamination because they were the only company making PCBs in the U.S.," said Dr. Gail Carlson, Director of Buck Lab for Climate and Environment at Colby College. "There is a legal definition for responsible party under our hazardous waste laws that says the company responsible for the pollution has to clean it up."

The State is seeking monetary damages for injuries and the costs to clean up, monitor, and mitigate the 400 miles of Maine rivers and 1.8 million ocean acres that are currently identified as impaired by PCBs.

Monsanto has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to other states such as Washington and Oregon to settle similar lawsuits.

Monsanto released the following statement in response to the complaint filed by Frey.

“We will respond to the complaint in greater detail in court at the appropriate time, however, we believe this case is meritless as Monsanto never manufactured or disposed of PCBs in the State of Maine, and any PCB-containing products that could be the source of any impairments in the state were manufactured and disposed by third parties. Under applicable law, a manufacturer of component parts is not responsible for the downstream, third-party uses of a product that it lawfully introduced into the stream of commerce and over which it has had no control for nearly five decades. Monsanto discontinued its production of PCBs nearly five decades ago, conducted hundreds of studies about their safety, and provided warnings to its customers based on the state-of-the science at the time."

“The Company has strong defenses and will vigorously defend against these claims.”