The lawsuit, filed yesterday in US District Court in San Francisco, seeks to hold Monsanto accountable for its long-standing contamination of Oakland’s storm water and the San Francisco Bay with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs). Monsanto produced PCBs for about 50 years until they were banned in 1979.
Despite the ban, PCBs are a common environmental contaminant found in natural resources including water and plants as well as the tissues of marine life, animals and humans. PCBs can destroy fish habitats and are associated with illnesses and cancer in humans.
During the five decades prior to the 1979 ban, Monsanto’s PCBs were incorporated into a wide variety of products and applications including power transformers, electrical equipment, paints, caulks and other building materials.
City officials say Oakland will incur significant costs to remove PCBs from storm water flowing into San Francisco Bay. County-wide costs could reach $1 billion.
The city of San Jose, California, filed a similar lawsuit against Monsanto in July that also alleges Monsanto knowingly polluted the San Francisco Bay with PCBs and should pay to clean up the contamination.
The following month the city of Spokane, Washington, sued the agrochemical giant, alleging that Monsanto is responsible for the high levels of PCBs in the Spokane River.
Photo Credit: San Francisco Bay via Shutterstock