Oregon sued the agricultural chemical giant Monsanto on Thursday, alleging the company withheld information about the toxic effects of its products for decades, leading to widespread contamination across the state and health risks for humans, plants and animals.
The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum in Multnomah County Circuit Court, seeks at least $100 million in damages and cites ongoing cleanup costs at the Portland Harbor Superfund site as one example of the tens of millions in public resources being spent in response to Monsanto's toxic products.
In a statement, the company called the lawsuit "baseless."
Oregon is just the latest entity to single out Monsanto for developing and producing polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs. The colorless compounds were in high demand for decades because of their utility. They were fire-retardant and used in paint products, electric devices and hydraulic oils until the federal government banned them in 1979. PCBs are one of several chemical pollutants found in sediment at the Portland Harbor.
Oregon's lawsuit, along with those filed by the state of Washington, eight West Coast cities including Portland and the Port of Portland in recent years, contends the company knew as early as 1937 that PCBs were extremely harmful.
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