Berkley City Council in California has voted unanimously to hold Monsanto legally liable for polluting the land and water with highly toxic PCBs.
The news follows Monsanto’s announcement of cutting a total of 3,600 jobs due to declining sales.
The suit will seek to recover the cost of cleaning up PCBs, synthetic organic chemicals whose full name is polychlorinated biphenyl.
Oakland’s suit was filed in November in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the continuing presence of PCBs in Oakland runoff.
The chemicals were used in power transformers, electrical equipment, paints, caulks and other building materials, according to Oakland’s city attorney’s office. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that PCBs are likely a carcinogen to humans.
Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington, who led the effort to get the city to file suit, said today that it’s possible that Berkeley’s suit will be combined with those filed by other cities but he would prefer that it remain separate because “our issues are specific to Berkeley.”
Worthington said, “Monsanto’s polluting proliferation of PCBs was a corporate crime and restitution for this nefarious nuisance should come from Monsanto’s profits, not from the taxpayers’ pockets.”