Monsanto unit to pay $40 million in PCB lawsuit

The Monsanto Co. and its unit Solutia have agreed to pay $40 million to settle a class action lawsuit resulting from chemical contamination with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the 1970s.

ANNISTON, Ala., April 27, 2001—The Monsanto Co. and its unit Solutia have agreed to pay $40 million to settle a class action lawsuit resulting from chemical contamination with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the 1970s.

Nearly 1,600 residents acted together to sue the chemical manufacturer, claiming that Monsanto poisoned the community with the toxic chemicals and then covered it up, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The settlement money amounts to $5,000-12,000 per plaintiff named in the case.

In addition, Solutia, Monsanto's spun off chemical unit, will pay $2.5 million to help relocate plaintiffs that are close to the chemical plant, $3.5 million to a charitable foundation benefiting those exposed to PCBs, and $1 million in court costs.

PCBs were manufactured in Anniston from 1927 through 1972 to be used as insulation in electrical equipment. The government banned its production in the late 1970s when questions about health risks began to crop up, the report said.

PCB-laden wastewater and stormwater from the plant flowed into a drainage ditch and creek, ran to Choccolocco Creek and then into Lake Logan Martin.

The company had previously agreed to pay $43.7 million to property owners in the area.

According to the EPA (http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/pcb/), PCBs are mixtures of synthetic organic chemicals with the same basic chemical structure and similar physical properties ranging from oily liquids to waxy solids.

Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment; as plasticizers in paints, plastics and rubber products; in pigments, dyes and carbonless copy paper and many other applications.

More than 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured in the United States prior to cessation of production in 1977.

Concern over the toxicity and persistence in the environment of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) led Congress in 1976 to prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of PCBs.

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