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Maine sues biochemical giant Monsanto over PCB contamination

Maine is suing Monsanto over its alleged knowledge that it was selling products containing harmful PCB chemicals that contributed to contamination of the state's natural resources.

Maine is suing biochemical giant Monsanto for allegedly knowingly selling products containing harmful chemicals that have contributed to contamination in the state.

The latest lawsuit targeting the company over the manufacture and sale of products with polychlorinated biphenyls, also known as PCBs, was filed on Thursday in Cumberland County Superior Court. It alleges that Monsanto knew about the danger of PCBs years before they were banned but continued to make and sell products containing them.

"We have evidence that Monsanto knew that its PCBs products were causing long-lasting harm and chose to continue to make money off poisoning Maine’s people and environment," Attorney General Aaron Frey said in a statement Friday. "I am taking action to demand that Monsanto pay for the harm it knowingly caused our state."


Monsanto is now owned by Bayer, a pharmaceutical and biotechnology company.

Monsanto, which said it discontinued production of PCBs five decades ago, described the lawsuit as "meritless" and said any sale of PCB-containing products would have come from third-party manufactures because it never manufactured or disposed of PCBs in Maine.

Vermont was the first state to sue Monsanto last year over PCB contamination of natural resources, followed by dozens of school districts in the state. Bayer agreed to pay $698 million to Oregon to end a lawsuit over PCB pollution in 2022.

PCBs are linked to numerous health concerns and are one of the chemicals responsible for fish consumption advisories in Maine. They were used in building materials and electrical equipment like transformers, capacitors and fluorescent lighting ballasts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned manufacturing and certain uses of them in 1979 over concerns they could cause cancer and other illnesses.

Maine said it will be seeking damages for the costs of cleaning up, monitoring and mitigating 400 miles of Maine rivers and streams and 1.8 million ocean acres that are currently identified as impaired by PCBs.

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