Oakland is one of 12 cities across the nation receiving millions of dollars after filing a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant Bayer and former chemical company Monsanto for its alleged involvement in contaminating waterways with forever chemicals.
The city on Dec. 20 announced its share of the $527.5 million settlement, which alleges that Monsanto, a now-defunct agrochemical company acquired by Bayer in 2016, produced polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, for 50 years despite knowing their detrimental effects on human health and the environment.
The company, known for its weed-killer herbicide Roundup, was said to have been the sole producer of PCBs in the country from the 1930s until they were banned in 1979. The company continued to produce PCBs in their products even though it knew of their harm in 1937, the lawsuit alleged.
Though the chemicals were banned over four decades ago, PCBs are still pervasive in all natural resources like water and plants, and in tissues of animals and marine life. Its presence is linked to serious long-term illness and cancer in humans.
“The people of Oakland deserve and are entitled to have access to clean and healthy water. This settlement will help us clean up the mess Monsanto made in Oakland’s storm drains and the San Francisco Bay. …”Barbara Parker, Oakland City Attorney
Oakland will receive an estimated $7.5 million after joining a class action complaint in 2020. The cities of Berkeley and San Jose are also named as class representatives in the settlement.
In total, 2,443 public entities will receive funds from the lawsuit to monitor or mitigate PCB contamination in stormwater, sediment and bodies of water.
“The people of Oakland deserve and are entitled to have access to clean and healthy water,” said Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker. “This settlement will help us clean up the mess Monsanto made in Oakland’s storm drains and the San Francisco Bay. I’m proud to have been a member of the team that spearheaded this litigation to hold corporate polluters accountable.”
In 2015, Oakland was one of the first cities in the nation to file an individual lawsuit against Monsanto for stormwater and public water contamination.
“As we witness on a daily basis the devastation caused by the climate crisis and threat of ecosystem collapse, it is past time to put a stop to the practice of allowing corporations to choose profits over protecting people,” Parker said.
The $527.5 million settlement was announced last month, and Bayer said in a statement, “We are pleased with the court’s decision to grant final approval of the class settlement that resolves most of the Company’s exposure to municipal government PCB water litigation. Under the proposed agreement, Bayer does not admit to any liability or wrongdoing, and the court’s final approval fully resolves the claims of class members.”