22 February, 2002, 22:08 GMT
loses pollution battle
Alabama court has found Monsanto liable for dumping thousands of
tons of pollutants into waterways near the town of Anniston that
has lead to thousands of cases of cancer and other ailments.
verdict clears the way for over a dozen plaintiffs to seek
monetary compensation for the thousands of tons of
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) dumped into creeks over the
course of five decades.
was found guilty of a number of counts, including negligence.
The company produced PCBs at its Anniston plant from 1935 to
1971. Damages have to be determined in the case. It remains the
responsibility of Circuit Court Judge Joel Laird how to proceed
with other cases pending against Monsanto and the other
defendants in the case, which include Monsanto's
chemical-producing arm called Solutia - spun off from the
company in 1997 - and pharmaceutical firm Pharmacia, which has
an 85% stake in Monsanto.
companies have said they have spent about $40 million to clean
up PCB contamination in and around Anniston, a town of
approximately 26,000 people. Late last year, the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) ruled General Electric (GE) must dredge
portions of the Hudson River in upstate New York due to PCB
contamination it introduced into 40-mile stretch of the river
north of the state capital, Albany.
had argued it had acted responsibly by halting production of
PCBs in Anniston six years before the federal government moved
to ban them. Lawyers for the plaintiffs countered by portraying
the company as reckless for failing to inform residents about
the possible harm that could be caused by contact with PCBs.
pollutant is believed to responsible for a range of ailments,
including reproductive disorders, cancers and liver disease.