Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed an environmental lawsuit against an agricultural company in King County (WA) Superior Court. The lawsuit seeks damages and cleanup costs associated with the polychlorinated PCB contamination in Washington from biphenyls (PCBs) that the company produced for decades. The AG office states:
The agricultural company was the only U.S. company to produce PCBs from 1935 to 1979, when the Toxic Substances Control Act banned their manufacture. Ferguson asserts that the company knew these compounds were toxic to humans and wildlife and had spread throughout the ecosystem long before the ban took effect.
PCBs present a public nuisance “that is harmful to health and obstructs the free use of public resources and state waters,” the lawsuit alleges, due to the company’s negligence and its efforts to conceal the dangers of its product.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies PCBs as a probable human carcinogen. PCB exposure is associated with cancer, as well as adverse effects on human immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems. In addition, PCBs harm populations of fish, birds and other animal life.
Seattle and Spokane have pending lawsuits against the company over the costs associated with PCB contamination in water treatment, joining Portland and several California cities. The state’s claims are separate from the cities’ and cover much broader ground. The state’s lawsuit does not impede Seattle’s and Spokane’s ability to recover the damages sought in their court actions.
State of Washington v. Monsanto Company, Solutia, Inc., and Pharmacia Corporation, and Does 1 through 100 was filed December 12, 2016, in King County Superior Court, removed to the US District Court Western District of Washington on January 12, 2017, and on July 28, 2017 was remanded to the lower court.
AG Ferguson charges the agricultural company with knowing the dangers of PCBs yet hiding them from the public to generate profits. The lawsuit seeks compensation for damages to the state’s natural resources, including the economic impact to the state and its residents. It also asks the court to award present and future costs to address the “ongoing public nuisance” caused by PCBs. Damages could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars or more.
Parties involved in environmental pollution lawsuits rely on environmental contamination experts to consult on environmental impact studies, the toxicology analysis of hazardous materials, and remediation. These experts are knowledgeable in environmental site assessments and present informed and impartial testimony before the court.