Klagen gegen Monsanto – Umweltverschmutzungen durch PCB – Spokane sues Monsanto for PCB contamination

PCBDie Stadt Spokane (WA) verklagt Monsanto. In der Klage geht es um die Verschmutzung des Flusses Spokane. Monsanto  machte mit polychlorierten Biphenylen (PCB) über Jahrzehnte hinweg Milliardengewinne. Der Konzern hat die Gefahren der Substanzen jahrzehntelang vertuscht. Weltweit wurden bis 1989 rund 1,3 Millionen Tonnen PCB hergestellt. Davon stammte etwa die Hälfte aus den Fabriken des US-Konzerns Monsanto. PCB sind chemisch mit Dioxinen verwandt und zählen zu den als „dreckiges Dutzend“ bekannten Gefahrstoffen.  English

Ein weiteres chemisches Produkt aus der Skandalchronik von Monsanto ist PCB

Schon in den späten 1930er Jahren wusste die Firma Monsanto von den Gesundheitsrisiken. Arbeiter in einer New Yorker Fabrik, die mit PCB in Berührung gekommen waren, litten an Chlorakne und Leberschäden, zum Teil mit tödlichem Ausgang. Der Umweltmediziner Cecil Drinker von der Harvard Universität wurde mit der Untersuchung beauftragt. Auf einer Konferenz, an der auch Vertreter des Konzerns teilnahmen, wies Drinker 1937 erstmals auf die Gefahren hin. Der Vermarktung von PCB tat dies jedoch keinen Abbruch.

Die Stadt Spokane, Washington, verklagt den agrochemische Riesen Monsanto. Aus der Klage geht nicht hervor, ob ein bestimmter Schadenersatz gefordert wird. Es wird behauptet, dass Monsanto für den hohen Prozentsatz an polychlorierten Biphenylen (PCB) im Spokane River verantwortlich ist. Der Anwalt ist Scott Summy, er ist Aktionär bei Baron & Budd, einem der größten und ältesten Unternehmen in den Vereinigten Staaten, die in Umweltrechtsstreitigkeiten spezialisiert sind.

Die Spokane-Klage folgt einer ähnlichen Klage von der Stadt San José, Kalifornien, die ebenfalls eingereicht wurde, und auch behauptet, dass Monsanto wissentlich die San Francisco Bay mit PCB verschmutzt hat, und nun fordert, dass Monsanto für die Sanierung der Kontaminierung zahlen soll. Durch das Regenwasser der Stadt San Francisco fließt PCB in den Fluss, so dass dieses das Flusswasser kontaminiert.

Andere Städte haben in ähnlicher Weise über PCB-Belastung Schadensersatzansprüche an Monsanto gestellt, einschließlich San Diego Kalifornien und Westport, Massachusetts.

Die Sprecherin der Stadt Spokane gibt an, dass in den kommenden Jahren mit anfallenden Kosten von etwa 300 000 000 $ zu rechnen seien, um PCB und andere Schadstoffe aus dem Fluss zu entfernen.

Spokane ist die Hauptstadt des gleichnamigen Countys und größte Stadt im Osten Washingtons. Ihr Name basiert auf dem Indianerstamm der Spokan, welche die Gegend bis zur Ankunft der Europäer bevölkerten.Sie ist die zweitgrößte Stadt Washingtons nach Seattle.

Leseempfehlung

PCB sind persistente, sehr mobile Verbindungen, die sich aufgrund ihrer hohen Fettlöslichkeit entlang der Nahrungskette anreichern. Sie können das menschliche Hormonsystem, das Nervensystem und das Immunsystem schädigen, die Schilddrüse, Leber und Nieren angreifen und zu Unfruchtbarkeit führen. Die Weltgesundheitsorganisation (WHO) hat die Substanzklasse jüngst in die Liste krebserzeugender Stoffe der Kategorie 1 hochgestuft.Lesen Sie dazu auch: Polychlorierte Biphenyle (PCB) und der Giftkrieg

Verseuchter Hafen in Norwegen durch PCB – Verursacher Bayer

Der andere Konzern, der mit PCB  über Jahrzehnte Milliardengewinne machte, ist Bayer. Die wichtigsten Handelsnamen waren Aroclor (Monsanto), Clophen und Elanol (Bayer) sowie Pyralene (von der französischen Firma Proodelec). Der Chlorgehalt variiert je nach Hersteller und Produkt zwischen 20 und 60 Prozent.

Dazu auch ein interessanter Blog-Beitrag von Freitag-Community-Mitglied BIG Business Crime.

In Deutschland wurden allein in Fugendichtungen rund 20 000 Tonnen PCB verbaut. Mehr als die Hälfte davon befindet sich bis heute in den Gebäuden. Die Ausgasungen führen zu einer permanenten Belastung der Luft.

Ein Beispiel für die bislang gescheiterten Versuche, die Hersteller für ihre giftige Hinterlassenschaft haftbar zu machen, ist die Reinigung des Hafenbeckens von Oslo. Große Teile der norwegischen Küste sind mit PCB verseucht, vor allem durch Rückstände von Schiffsfarben. In Teilen Norwegens musste daher der Verzehr von Meeresfrüchten verboten werden. Chemische Nachweisverfahren zeigen, dass rund die Hälfte der in norwegischen Gewässern gefundenen Gefahrstoffe aus der Produktion von Bayer stammt.

Eine Sanierung des 100 km langen Oslofjords würde Milliarden kosten. In einem ersten Schritt wurde von 2006 bis 2011 der Hafen der Hauptstadt gereinigt. Über Jahre hinweg versuchte die Kommune von Bayer und zwei weiteren Produzenten eine Beteiligung an den Kosten einzutreiben. Von den Ausgaben in Höhe von rund 26 Millionen Euro sollten die Produzenten sieben Millionen tragen, Bayer entsprechend des Marktanteils rund 3,5 Millionen.

Tom Erik Økland vom Umweltverband „Norges Naturvernforbund“ reiste eigens zur Bayer-Hauptversammlung nach Köln und richtete sich dort direkt an den Vorstand: „Die Kontaminierung weiter Teile der norwegischen Küste und die Vergiftung hunderter Werftarbeiter hätten verhindert werden können, wenn Bayer rechtzeitig vor den Risiken von PCB gewarnt hätte.“ Der damalige Vorstandsvorsitzende Werner Wenning bestritt jegliche Verantwortung und lehnte eine Kostenbeteiligung ab.

Hoffen wir, dass Spokane mit Ihrer Klage erfolgreich sein wird, dann können sich Monsanto und Bayer warm anziehen.

Monsanto and BAYER were the world’s largest producers of PCBs which contaminated thousands of buildings. For decades the companies kept quiet about the hazards. The enormous cleanup costs are passed on to the public. The Coalition against BAYER Dangers, based in Germany, has introduced a countermotion to the upcoming Bayer shareholder meeting to hold the companies liable.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) belong to the most toxic substances produced ever. Worldwide approximately 1.3 million tons were manufactured. PCBs were used in electrical appliances, caulking compounds, paints and floor coatings. Thousands of buildings were contaminated. The substances can damage the hormone, nervous and immune system, attack the thyroid gland, liver and kidneys and can cause infertility. The World Health Organization has classified PCBs as a Category 1 carcinogen.

BAYER began producing PCBs in 1930 and sold the substances under the trade names Clophen and Elanol. After Monsanto, BAYER was the world’s second-largest manufacturer, accounting for 160,000 metric tons, approximately 12 per cent of global production.

Sweden was the first country in the world to prohibit open applications, e.g. in caulking compounds, paints and plastics, as long ago as 1972. Germany followed suit in 1978. However, due to industry pressure the use of PCBs in ostensibly „closed“ systems such as hydraulic fluids and transformers remained legal. Even worse: In 1977, when the US, up to then the largest producer, prohibited all production and use of PCBs, BAYER leapt into the breach and increased its output from 6,000 to 7,500 metric tons a year. BAYER, the last remaining producer in the West, did not halt production until 1983.

Philipp Mimkes from the Coalition against BAYER Dangers says: “Monsanto and BAYER have long known that PCBs are harmful to humans and the environment. The chemical industry is therefore complicit in thousands of cases of poisoning. It is high time that the former producers bear some of the immense costs of cleanup and medical treatment. It is unacceptable that Monsanto and BAYER profited for half a century from PCB sales and are now not contributing to the costs occasioned by their disposal.”

The Coalition against Bayer Dangers has introduced a countermotion to the BAYER shareholder meeting in Cologne on April 29th and will speak up in the gathering. Since the Board of Management is responsible for the company’s failure to assume responsibility for its toxic PCB heritage, the Coalition demands that the actions of the board must not be ratified.

PCBs are extremely long-lived and have a high mobility. They have turned up virtually everywhere in nature – from the depths of the sea to the Arctic. PCB concentrations measured in the Inuit people of Canada were as high as in the victims of major chemical accidents.

PCBs are highly soluble in fats and accumulate in the food chain. Particularly high levels are detected in adipose tissue and human breast milk. The intake by nursing infants can be 50 to 100 times higher than in adults. Toxicologists have found evidence that exposure in the womb can lead to serious neurological damage. Although the concentration of PCBs in breast milk has decreased by approximately 75 per cent in the past 20 years, it will take more than 100 years until PCB absorption through breast milk is below the maximum tolerable daily intake established by the World Health Organization.

Worldwide, there are more than three million tons of hydraulic fluid and equipment contaminated by PCBs. The costs of packaging, transport and proper disposal are between USD 2,000 and 5,000 per ton, which means a total cost of up to USD 15 billion. The cleanup of contaminated buildings will cost even more.

In Germany approximately 20,000 metric tons of PCBs were used in caulking compounds. More than half of that quantity remains in buildings to this day. Thousands of schools and universities are contaminated. The gases released cause a permanent contamination of the air and have caused countless cases of serious damage to health. In some cases, teachers and students have been exposed to toxic concentrations that would have required factory workers to wear protective suits and respirators.

In October, the University of Bochum was forced to start the demolition and replacement of several buildings contaminated with PCBs at a cost of hundreds of millions in this case alone. The cleanup of the Cologne UniCenter will cost approximately 30 million. There are similar problems in the Universities of Erlangen, Bielefeld and Düsseldorf, as well as in many government buildings. So far, all the costs are being paid out of government budgets.

The costs of the contamination of the food supply are also being passed on to the general public. The food scandal in Belgium caused by the addition of 25 liters of PCBs to animal feed fats led to direct costs of one billion euros and indirect costs of three billion. The Irish pork crisis is also due to the use of oils contaminated with PCBs in the dehydration of animal feed and has cost government agencies some 100 million euros.  http://www.cbgnetwork.org/5481.html

Monsanto Hit With Another Lawsuit Alleging Environmental Pollution

Monsanto protest 2

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Spokane sues Monsanto for PCB contamination

The Spokesman-Review

The city of Spokane has filed a lawsuit against the international agrochemical giant Monsanto, alleging that the company sold chemicals for decades that it knew were a danger to human and environmental health.

The lawsuit, which does not specifically state what the city is seeking in monetary damages, also alleges that Monsanto is responsible for the high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in the Spokane River.

Marlene Feist, the city’s utilities spokeswoman, called the suit “long-term litigation,” and noted that the city will spend $300 million to keep PCBs and other pollutants from entering the river in coming years.

PCBs have entered the river by various means, including through commercial and industrial products such as paint, hydraulic fluids, sealants, inks and others.

Charla Lord, a spokeswoman with Monsanto, said in a statement that the company is “reviewing the lawsuit and its allegations. However, Monsanto is not responsible for the costs alleged in this matter.”

The Spokane River has elevated levels of PCBs, which have been found in its water, sediments, fish and wildlife. The PCBs enter the river, in part, through the city’s water and stormwater discharges. It is currently trying to meet a 2017 federal deadline to stop pollution from entering the river. It has adopted a Integrated Clean Water Plan, and is adding more levels of treatment at its water treatment plant, efforts that convinced the law firms to represent Spokane, Feist said.

Though the city does not state an amount of money its seeking, the suit said it seeks “compensatory damages,” lawyer’s fees, interest and any other relief the court deems appropriate.

The lawsuit names two companies that spun off from the corporation in the 1990s, and joins other municipalities seeking damages from the company, including San Diego, San Jose and Westport, Massachusetts.

The outside law firms representing the city – Baron and Budd, and Gomez Trial Attorneys – have experience with PCB litigation.

Baron and Budd, a national law firm with environmental litigation experience, currently offers free PCB testing to any school built between 1950 and 1980. According to the firm, it specializes in lawsuits designed to help public entities recover the cost of remediation. The company has worked with people affected by asbestos.

Scott Summy, the lead attorney on the Spokane case, has been the force behind much of this litigation, and regularly represents public water providers whose water is contaminated by chemicals. He was also involved in lawsuits arising out of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Along with Baron and Budd, the Gomez firm is part of San Jose’s case against Monsanto.

Monsanto was the sole producer of PCBs between 1935 and 1979, and the company commonly sold the chemical under the name of Aroclor nationally. According to the suit, the company knew PCBs were toxic while it still produced and marketed the product, but concealed these facts until Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act, which banned most PCBS beginning Jan. 1, 1979.

Aroclor was developed by Monsanto as a coolant in electrical transformers and capacitors, but was soon used in a wide variety of household products, from varnishes and lacquers to jewelry and coatings for swimming pools.

Lord, the company’s spokeswoman, noted that the company has produced many products, and has gone through many transformations, over the years.

“Monsanto today, and for the last decade, has been focused solely on agriculture, but we share a name with a company that dates back to 1901,” Lord wrote in a statement. “The former Monsanto was involved in a wide variety of businesses including the manufacture of PCBs. PCBs were industrial chemicals, which were sold to sophisticated companies who incorporated them as safety fluids into electrical equipment, into plastics, and into thousands of useful construction and building material products. PCBs served an important fire protection and safety purpose for the electrical and other industries. The manufacture of PCBs in the United States was banned in 1979, although the former Monsanto voluntarily ceased production and selling before that.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said that PCBs are probable carcinogens, and PCBs are linked to inducing many types of cancers, including breast, liver, gall bladder, melanoma and others. Evidence suggests that PCBs impair the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system.

Spokane will soon be subject to new limits on the amount of pollutants that can be put in the river while still meeting water quality standards.

The traditional Monsanto company – which produced agricultural, chemical and pharmacy products – was spun off in the 1990s into three separate entities: Monsanto, Solutia and Pharmacia. All three companies are named in the lawsuit brought by Spokane.

While Monsanto said it had no responsibility for the cost of the river’s clean up, it suggested other companies may.

“PCBs sold at the time were a lawful and useful product that was then incorporated by third parties into other useful products,” wrote the spokeswoman Lord. “If improper disposal or other improper uses created the necessity for clean-up costs, then these other third parties would bear responsibility for these costs.” deutsch

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