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News > Companies
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Monsanto said to dump PCBs
graphic January 2, 2002: 12:43 p.m. ET

Chemical maker reportedly dumped toxins; company sees no liability.
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  • Monsanto faces spinoff - Nov. 28, 2001
  • Monsanto beats 2Q forecasts, warns of wider 3Q loss - July 25, 2001
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    NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Monsanto Inc. quietly dumped large amounts of highly toxic chemicals into an Alabama creek for decades even as company studies revealed the deadly effects on fish and the contamination of local livestock, according to a published report.

    Citing documents dating back 40 years, the Washington Post said Tuesday that the agricultural chemical and seed firm regularly discharged now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs into an Anniston, Ala., creek and dumped millions of pounds of the chemicals into oozing open-pit landfills.

    The plant now manufactures a chemical used in Tylenol.

    The chemicals contaminated the water and soil nearby used by the unsuspecting residents of Anniston, the paper said. So far, Monsanto has avoided the eyes of regulators, spending just $40 million on cleanup efforts, the Post said. It added that the company spent $80 million more on legal settlements, and another lawsuit by 3,600 plaintiffs is scheduled for trial next Monday.

    But a spokesman for Monsanto said his company has no exposure to PCB and toxic chemical liability related to former Monsanto facilities.

    The spokesman said the bearer of liability is a company named Solutia Inc. (SOI: down $0.81 to $13.21, Research, Estimates), which was created in 1997 when Monsanto spun off its specialty chemical operations into a separate company.

    Monsanto (PHA: down $0.95 to $41.70, Research, Estimates), fell nearly 2 percent in midday trading.

    John Moten, an analyst with Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown, agreed the legal problems are Solutia's and the early selloff in shares was a knee-jerk reaction of a skittish market.

    In 1966, Monsanto managers discovered fish submerged in the Anniston creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dunked in boiling water, the Post reported, citing thousands of pages of company documents. It said many of those documents were labeled "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy."

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    The documents also show that fish in another creek were contaminated with 7,500 times the legal PCB levels in 1969, but that company executives decided "[t]here is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges," the Post reported.

    A company study in 1975 discovered that PCBs caused tumors in rats, but the company ordered the conclusion changed from "slightly tumorigenic" to "does not appear to be carcinogenic," the report continued.

    "Did we do some things we wouldn't do today? Of course. But that's a little piece of a text. I think we've got nothing to be ashamed of," Robert Kaley, environmental affairs director of Solutia, Monsanto's chemical unit, told the Post.

    The allegations come a month after the Environmental Protection Agency ordered General Electric Co. to pay $460 million to dredge PCBs it dumped in New York's Hudson River. graphic

      RELATED STORIES

    Monsanto faces spinoff - Nov. 28, 2001

    Monsanto beats 2Q forecasts, warns of wider 3Q loss - July 25, 2001





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