LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer today deemed as baseless a lawsuit filed by Los Angeles County seeking unspecified damages to help pay for cleaning up widespread PCB contamination in the region's waterways.
According to the complaint, lodged Thursday in Los Angeles federal court, Bayer's Monsanto unit withheld information that polychlorinated biphenyls -- PCBs -- were harmful and have been linked to cancer and other health problems. The U.S. government banned the manufacture and most uses of PCBs in 1979.
Bayer Crop Science spokesperson Charla Lord said in an email statement that the company was reviewing the lawsuit, which it deemed to be “without merit” and noted they “will defend ourselves vigorously.”
According to the statement, Monsanto voluntarily stopped producing PCBs more than 40 years ago, and when the company sold PCB, “it sold to many industrial and manufacturing customers, as well as the U.S. government, which put them to various uses. Today, where there exists a need to clean up chemicals in the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency and state governments employ an effective system to identify dischargers and clean-up as necessary.”
The lawsuit alleges that “although Monsanto knew for decades that PCBs were toxic and that they were widely contaminating natural resources and living organisms, Monsanto concealed the fact” and continued producing the chemical.
The county contends that such waterways as the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers, Ballona Creek and parts of Santa Monica Bay have been polluted by the manmade chemicals.
“PCBs have traveled into many water bodies in Los Angeles County by a variety of ways,” the lawsuit contends.
The county is seeking unspecified monetary damages incurred in “reducing, removing and avoiding the presence” of PCBs in waterways and facilities. Monsanto produced PCBs until 1977, according to the company.