Portland, Ore. to Sue Monsanto for 'Favoring Profits Over Ecological and Human Health'

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Portland, Ore. to Sue Monsanto for 'Favoring Profits Over Ecological and Human Health'

City council passed resolution allowing city attorney to take legal action

Walkers and bikers next to the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo: Ian Sane/flickr/cc)

Portland, Oregon's city council on Wednesay voted unanimously to authorize City Attorney Tracy Reeve to sue Monsanto for contaminating water bodies within the city with PCBs.

"Portland's elected officials are committed to holding Monsanto accountable for its apparent decision to favor profits over ecological and human health," Reeve said in a statement.  "Monsanto profited from selling PCBs for decades and needs to take responsibility for cleaning up after the mess it created," she said.

The resolution passed by the city body states that the company was the only manufacturer of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from 1935 until they were banned in 1979. The contamination from PCBs—which cause a range of harmful effects on wildlife and humans and are categorized as probable human carcinogens—lingers, and it "has been found in sediments within the City of Portland in the Columbia Slough and the Willamette River," the resolution states.

"In our case there are PCBs widely distributed throughout Portland Harbor and that’s one of the main reasons it was listed as a superfund site back in December of 2000," Travis Williams, executive director of Willamette Riverkeeper, told local news KGW.

Portland joins six other West Coast cities—Seattle, Spokane, Berkeley, Oakland, San Diego and San Jose—to file such a suit. The seven cities will use the same two law firms for their separate suits.

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