The Bayer AG entity Monsanto Co. will pay $25 million to end a suit from the state of New Hampshire alleging it concealed the toxicity of polychlorinated biphenyls to keep profits high at the expense of health and environmental concerns..
In a release from Attorney General John M. Formella, the state said it would receive $20 million from the deal after paying its attorney fees from the state court suit.
In the October 2020 complaint, New Hampshire accused the company of making PCBs well into the 1970s despite understanding the chemicals’ environmental costs — and the health risks that could result — decades before. It sought damages for the harm the substance caused to the state’s waterways, fish and other natural resources.
New Hampshire said in the complaint that the potential health impacts from PCBs range from cancer to thyroid issues and low birth weights. PCBs were used in a slew of products, from caulking to lubricants. The substance eventually leached from the products and contaminated the environment, and can accumulate in species such as fish, the state claims.
As a result, PCBs have contaminated more than 60,000 acres of water.. In some areas, fish can’t be caught and eaten. And the presence of PCBs means the state must pay to monitor and enforce water quality limits for PCBs under the Clean Water Act. Remediation costs are also a burden.
The state alleged negligence, design defect and failure to warn, among other claims.
It accused Monsanto of knowing about the risks PCBs posed but continuing to sell PCB-laden products because they made money. The complaint provided examples of Monsanto’s supposed knowledge of PCBs’ harm, including when in the 1950s, the company told workers “not to eat lunch in the PCB department.”
The suit targeted Monsanto Co., an Eastman Chemical Co. entity and a Pfizer Inc. subsidiary. All three companies targeted are successors of Monsanto’s liability in some way.
“We challenged Monsanto to step up and address the contamination that they caused in the 1970’s,” Formella said in a release. “We are pleased that we were able to efficiently resolve this case in a way that will provide tremendous benefits to the state.”