Long Beach among cities approved for $550 million settlement with weed killer giant Monsanto – Press Telegram

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Long Beach and several other California agencies will receive part of a $550 million settlement over agribusiness giant Monsanto Co.’s alleged use of banned toxic compounds, under a judge’s preliminary ruling federal.

As part of the settlement with the company, owned by Bayer AG, Long Beach could receive up to $7.5 million, the city said in a statement Friday.

“Monsanto must be held accountable for its immense damage to the environment and to our communities,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in Friday’s statement. “I am proud that we took this legal action and sued Monsanto despite their deep pockets. We held on and stand to benefit greatly from this settlement.

FILE – In this June 28, 2011, file photo, bottles of Roundup herbicide, a Monsanto product, are displayed on a store shelf in St. Louis. A San Francisco jury on Friday, August 10, 2018, ordered agribusiness giant Monsanto to pay $289 million to a former school gardener dying of cancer, claiming that the famed weedkiller Roundup from the society had contributed to his illness. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

The city’s lawsuit was first filed in 2016, alleging the use of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, which are toxic industrial compounds banned by Congress in 1979. A settlement was initially reached in 2020.

Monsanto, an agricultural biotechnology company, was known for its brands including Roundup, which after being introduced in the 1970s became the world’s top-selling herbicide.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California recently granted preliminary approval of the settlement, according to court records.

Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto in 2018 and two years ago agreed to pay more than $10 billion to settle tens of thousands of weekskiller safety claims, said the settlement was a “resolution fair”.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to grant preliminary approval of the collective settlement that resolves most of the company’s litigation exposure issues related to water containing PCBs,” said Nicole Hayes, gatekeeper. -word from Bayer, in an e-mail to this newsgroup. “We believe this is a fair resolution and look forward to working with the court and the parties throughout the approval process.”

Two other companies, Pharmacia, a subsidiary of Pfizer, and Solutia, a subsidiary of Eastman Chemical, were also named in the lawsuit. Eastman Chemical did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday, March 21. Pamela Eisle, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, directed the demands to Bayer and Eastman Chemical.

According to Pfizer’s annual security filings, the alleged activity occurred before Pfizer acquired Pharmacia in 2003 and noted that Pfizer was not named in the lawsuit. Monsanto is required to indemnify Pharmacia for all of its chemical or agricultural liabilities, the filing reads.

Thirteen government entities have argued that Monsanto’s past manufacturing and supply of PCBs is causing ongoing harm to the local environment and ecosystems by contaminating waterways, according to a Long Beach statement. Such contamination is costly to treat, the statement added.

Although PCBs were banned by Congress in 1979, their persistence in products like paint, ink, hydraulic fluids, transformers, plastics and industrial equipment makes them harmful to the environment, the statement said. from the city. If PCBs continue to contaminate stormwater, the city said, it could harm the ocean.

Long Beach joined the California cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, San Jose, Oakland and Berkeley in the class action lawsuit. Baltimore and Baltimore County represented two governments on the East Coast. Tacoma and Spokane in Washington and Portland and the Port of Portland in Oregon represented the governments of the Pacific Northwest region.

Los Angeles County was part of the same class action lawsuit, county spokesman Jesus Ruiz confirmed.

The city of Los Angeles filed its own lawsuit earlier this year. Representatives for that city did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday, March 21.

“This is a great result for the City of Long Beach,” Long Beach City Assistant Attorney Dawn McIntosh said in a statement. “This order allows this case to move forward with the completion of class settlement approval and the distribution of up to $550 million to assist Long Beach and other government entities in monitoring and eliminating the PCBs from rainwater and remediating contaminated sediments.”

Once the settlement is finalized, the $550 million will be split among all members of the settlement class, more than 2,500 government agencies in total, not just the 13 that caused the litigation, the statement said.

According to the city’s statement, the settlement agreement will create three main funds:

  • $42.8 million to monitor PCBs in stormwater.
  • $250 million to comply with the Clean Water Act National Pollutant Release and Removal System.
  • $150 million for sediment remediation.

A fourth fund of $107 million will be created for legal costs, but it’s unclear how much Long Beach would receive from that fund, McIntosh said in an email. McIntosh represented Long Beach with Baron & Budd, PC and Gomez’s attorneys, according to the release.

McIntosh said it’s unclear when the funds will be distributed to Long Beach and other governments. The court has yet to appoint a special master to ensure court orders are followed, she said.

“It was quite difficult to predict the timelines in this case,” she said.

She added: “It was great to finally be able to hold them accountable for some of the decisions they made.”

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