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Port of Portland Files Lawsuit Against Monsanto

The Port of Portland is suing for widespread PCB contamination on port property, the Port announced Thursday.

January 5, 2017

This Aug. 31, 2011 file photo shows the Monsanto corporate logo at their exhibit booth during the Farm Progress Show, in Decatur, Illinois. The Port of Portland is suing the agriculture giant. Seth Perlman/AP

The Port of Portland is suing agriculture giant Monsanto Corporation for widespread PCB contamination on port property, the Port announced Thursday.

The lawsuit doesn’t state a dollar amount, but wants the company to pay for its portion of the clean up in the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

“The damages for the Port of Portland range anywhere between tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in total PCB clean-up costs,” said John Fiske, a California-based attorney representing the Port of Portland told OPB.

PCB — polychlorinated biphenyls — can cause cancer in people and affect their immune systems, according to the lawsuit. The chemicals don’t break down in nature and affect birds and fish.

The pollutant is in wire coating, caulk and sealants used at the Port of Portland.

The chemicals end up in the rivers that triangulate Portland through storm water runoff, the Port’s lawsuit against Monsanto states.

“Portland Waters are contaminated with PCBs, which have been detected in water, sediment, fish and wildlife,” the suit states.

From 1935 to 1979, Monsanto was the sole manufacture of PCB’s in the United States.

“Although Monsanto knew for decades that PCBs were toxic and knew that they were widely contaminating all natural resources and living organisms, Monsanto concealed these facts and continued producing PCBs until Congress enacted the Toxic Substance Control Act, which banned the manufacture and most uses of PCBs as of January 1, 1979,” the Port’s lawsuit states.

The Port is the 10th public entity on the West Coast to file a lawsuit against Monsanto. The city of Portland filed a similar case against Monsanto in July 2016.

Monsanto did not immediately return a request for comment.

This story will be updated.