What Goes Around Comes Around…to the Source

The only PCB producer in North America is feeling the heat from decades of improper disposal management. Thousands of individuals have filed personal injury lawsuits, claiming that PCBs were the direct cause of their health problems.

PCBs are polychlorinated biphenyls, a group of synthetic organic compounds of chlorine and benzene. It is a product that is resistant to heat and degradation, making it the ideal coolant or insulator in many electrical and electronic products. Its main use is to keep transformers and capacitors cool and electrical components insulated. The problem is it is a persistent organic pollutant. It gets into the air, the soil, and the water, and it does not easily degrade. It has been widely used everywhere, and because it was not properly disposed of, it is now an unwanted part of the ecology.

Monsanto Company was the sole producer of PBCs in North America. PCB production was in its Anniston facility from 1935 to 1971, and in Sauget from the late 1960s to 1977. Records show that the company routinely dumped production wastes into nearby rivers, such as Snow Creek in Anniston. Residents in and around the plants had no idea that they were being regularly exposed to a carcinogenic agent until years later when people who developed certain cancers and persistent skin problems were found to have large amounts of PCBs in their systems.

Monsanto and other companies have attempted to settle these complaints without admitting to any wrongdoing. However, settling personal injury lawsuits is just one part of the equation. The bigger question is who is going to clean up the mess?

According to the article found at http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2015/03/17/san-diego-sues-monsanto-over-pcb-pollution.html, Monsanto and its associates are liable for damages caused by PCBs in San Diego Bay. The claim pointed out that they were the only producers of PCB in the country and that “[d]espite growing evidence of PCBs infiltration of every level of the global ecology, Monsanto remained steadfast in its production of Aroclors and other PCBs.” The City of San Diego is suing the company for cleanup costs, loss of natural resources, and punitive damages.

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