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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City sues to hold Monsanto accountable for toxic PCBs

1/26/2016  11:00:00 AM
Kimberly Mills  (206) 684-8602

The City of Seattle is suing three “Monsanto” corporations to make them pay to remove cancer-causing chemical compounds known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from the City’s drainage system and the Duwamish River. Monsanto was the sole producer of PCBs in the United States from 1935 to 1979.

PCBs -- found globally in bays, oceans, rivers, streams, oil and air – are an equal opportunity toxic that destroys populations of fish, birds and other animal life as well as harming human immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.

At issue in the complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle is PCB contamination in 20,000 acres that drain to the Lower Duwamish, a federal Superfund site, and in areas that drain to the East Waterway adjacent to Harbor Island, a separate federal Superfund site. PCBs were detected in “82 percent of samples of sediment in drainage pipes” and in “73 percent of samples collected from catch basins in street right-of-ways” in Lower Duwamish drainage basins.

Under a consent decree issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington Department of Ecology, the City will build a storm water treatment plant adjacent to the Lower Duwamish that is designed to remove PCBs from storm water – at an estimated cost of nearly $27 million.

“Long after the dangers of PCBs were widely known, Monsanto continued its practice of protecting its business interests at our expense,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said. “The City intends to hold Monsanto accountable for the damage its product wreaked on our environment.”

”Seattle residents, waterways and wildlife, all deserve protection from harmful toxins like those used by Monsanto,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “We are taking action to recover the significant costs of cleaning up after Monsanto and to make clear that Seattle will stand up against contamination that threatens our environment.”

The director of Seattle Public Utilities, Ray Hoffman, said: “PCBs are dangerous, known to cause cancer and other health concerns. This lawsuit seeks to hold the polluter accountable to our community.”

Seattle becomes the sixth major American municipality to sue Monsanto, joining San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, San Diego and Spokane.

Video of CAO press conference

City's complaint against Monsanto

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