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Pa. to get $100M settlement from Monsanto over PCB contamination of waterways

 The sign at Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis.
James Finley
The sign at Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis.

Monsanto, Solution Inc., and Pharmacia LLC, will pay Pennsylvania $100 million to reconcile the state’s environmental contamination complaints. State officials said the funds will cover clean up costs of PCB-contamination in state waterways and in other natural resources.

PCBs are toxic, man-made compounds once used to make appliances like TVs and refrigerators. Congress made them illegal in the 1970s because they’re linked to liver and respiratory issues, as well as cognitive impairment in children exposed in utero.

“PCBs have no known taste or smell, and range in consistency from an oil to a waxy solid,” according to a statement from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). “PCBs can accumulate in the leaves and above-ground parts of plants and food crops. They are also taken up into the bodies of small organisms and fish. As a result, people who ingest fish may be exposed to PCBs that have bioaccumulated in the fish they are ingesting."

Eight million dollars of the $100 million will go to communities impacted by the environmental damage, state officials said, with the rest going to organizations coping with PCB contamination, including the DEP, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and Pennsylvania Game Commission.

“The Department has spent years protecting Pennsylvanians from PCBs,” said DEP Secretary Rich Negrin. “By securing this settlement, DEP is holding Monsanto accountable for what it did to Pennsylvania’s water and making sure that Monsanto is paying for the work the Commonwealth has done to keep its water clean. This agreement demonstrates our commitment to protecting the rights and resources of all Pennsylvanians.”

A statement from Monsanto said “the settlements contain no admission of liability or wrongdoing by the Company and will fully resolve all of those states’ PCB claims.”

Andrew Cummings