Monsanto to pay Oregon $698 million for decades of PCB contamination

SALEM, Ore. – Monsanto will pay nearly $700 million for allegedly polluting Oregon with “polychlorinated biphenyls,” or “PCBs.”

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s office said PCBs are toxic compounds formerly used in coolants, electrical equipment and hydraulic oils. They were also previously used in consumer products including paint, caulking, and copy paper.

In 2018, the State of Oregon sued Monsanto — the only manufacturer, seller, and distributor of PCBs in the U.S. — alleging Monsanto was aware as early as 1937 of the “highly toxic nature” of PCBs. Oregon said the company continued to produce and promote the compounds for decades before they were banned in 1977.

“This is a huge win for our state,” said AG Rosenblum. “PCBs are still present throughout Oregon — especially in our landfills and riverbeds — and they are exceedingly difficult to remove, because they ‘bioaccumulate’ in fish and wildlife. Cleaning up our state from this horrific environmental degradation will be as costly and time-consuming as it sounds, but this settlement means we now will have resources to help tackle this problem.”

The $698 million settlement is reportedly the largest environmental damage recovery in Oregon history.

Below is Bayer’s statement on the final settlement agreement in the Oregon PCB environmental impairment case:

“Bayer has reached a final agreement with the Attorney General for the State of Oregon to resolve a pending polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)-related environmental impairment case, involving legacy Monsanto PCB products. The settlement will fully resolve all claims brought by the state, release the company from any future liability, and result in the dismissal of the case. Under the terms of the agreement, Bayer will make a one-time payment of $698 million, which is fully covered by previous provisions. The company filed a lawsuit against former PCB customers to enforce its indemnification agreements and recover these and other PCB-related litigation costs. The Oregon agreement contains no admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company. The settlement terms reflect the unique challenges and trial procedures in this Oregon venue even though Monsanto voluntarily ceased production of PCBs in 1977 and never manufactured, used or disposed of PCBs in Oregon. Bayer remains committed to defending existing and future cases at trial and won dismissal of a case brought by the state of Delaware earlier this year.”

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