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Delaware sues Monsanto over PCB damage to the state

Delaware Public Media

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings sues an agrochemical company for long-lasting damage to the state’s natural resources.


The lawsuit against Monsanto and two of its corporate spinoffs seeks to recover damages and clean-up costs associated with polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs.

Jennings claims Monsanto manufactured the extremely toxic chemicals despite knowing the dangers they posed to the environment and public health.

In the lawsuit filed in Delaware Superior Court, Jennings argues the company knew as early as 1937 that PCB’s had systemic toxic effects in humans and animals, and it understood and actively promoted that PCBs do not naturally break down.

Jennings also claims Monsanto determined that it could not “afford to lose one dollar of business,” and continued to manufacture, market, and sell the PCBs to avoid losing profit.

Even though Congress banned manufacturing PCBs in 1978, they continue to pollute the state’s natural resources and waterways including the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, and the Christina River Watershed.

According to the CDC, PCBs are known to cause cancer in animals, and exposure can cause serious liver damage, depressed immune system function, gastrointestinal discomfort, depression, and other ailments in humans.

Monsanto's parent company, Bayer, responded to the Delaware lawsuit in a statement.

"We are reviewing this lawsuit and will respond to the complaint at the appropriate time; however, we believe it is without merit," the statement said. "Monsanto voluntarily ceased its lawful manufacturing of PCBs more than 40 years ago, and never manufactured, used, or disposed of PCBs into Delaware’s waters, and therefore should not be held liable for the contamination alleged by the state. Where it has been determined that those cleanups are necessary, federal and state authorities employ an effective system to identify dischargers and allocate clean-up responsibilities. Litigation of the sort brought by the state risks undermining these efforts.”

This story was updated to include Bayer's statement

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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