A consent agreement with the Monsanto Company, Solutia INC., and Pharmacia LLC has allowed the Shapiro Administration to secure $100 million to resolve claims related to environmental damages.
The money will be used to aid Pennsylvanians impacted by the production of products containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which damaged waterways and other natural resources across Pennsylvania.
Banned by Congress in 1979, PCBs are a group of man-made organic chemicals consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine atoms. PCBs have no known taste or smell, and range in consistency from an oil to a waxy solid. They can accumulate in the leaves and above-ground parts of plants and food crops and are ingested into the bodies of small organisms and fish. People who eat fish may be exposed to PCBs in the fish they are ingesting.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Rich Negrin said the department works to protect Pennsylvanians from PCBs.
“By securing this settlement, DEP is holding Monsanto accountable for what it did to Pennsylvania’s water and making sure that Monsanto is paying for the work the Commonwealth has done to keep its water clean,” Negrin said in a statement. “This agreement demonstrates our commitment to protecting the rights and resources of all Pennsylvanians.”
The settlement recovers costs that Pennsylvania has incurred due to PCB contamination and will be used for further remediation efforts. Under the agreement, $8 million will be used for the communities impacted by PCBs. That fund will be invested to promote environmental justice across the state.
Remaining funds will be allocated amongst the agencies that have been responsible for helping to combat PCB pollution in Pennsylvania, including the DEP, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and Pennsylvania Game Commission (PFBC).
PFBC Executive Director Tim Schaeffer said PCB pollution has contaminated fish in waterways, disrupted recreational opportunities, and impaired a valuable food source for millions of Pennsylvanians.
“On behalf of the anglers of Pennsylvania, we are proud to join our partner agencies in securing this settlement as we work to protect our cherished aquatic resources,” said Schaeffer.
A representative from the Monsanto Company emailed the following statement regarding the settlement:
“Monsanto has reached settlement agreements with the Commonwealths of Pennsylvania and Virginia to resolve all claims relating to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a legacy product the Company ceased producing in 1977, two years before EPA banned their manufacture. The settlements contain no admission of liability or wrongdoing by the Company and will fully resolve all of those states’ PCB claims.
“Under the terms of the agreements, Monsanto will make a payment of $99.5 million to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (plus $500,000 in costs) and $80 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia, terms that demonstrate the prior settlement with the State of Oregon was an outlier. The Company never manufactured or disposed of PCBs in Pennsylvania or Virginia’s environments.”