The City of Portland and the Port of Portland are among the governmental entities that recently filed a proposed $550 million settlement to resolve part of a nationwide class action lawsuit against Monsanto Company, Pharmacia, LLC, and Solutia, Inc.
The settlement would resolve over a dozen lawsuits for the recovery costs of stormwater and environmental contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) manufactured by Monsanto between the 1930s and 1977. It is not yet known what portion of the settlement will be allocated to the City and Port. The settlement must be approved by a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, which is expected to take several months.
PCBs are highly toxic compounds that were widely used until the federal government banned domestic production in 1979, pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act. Common uses of PCBs included electrical transformers, hydraulic oils, paints, and caulking. PCBs are a primary contaminant of concern in the Portland Harbor Superfund site where the City of Portland and the Port of Portland have been named potentially responsible parties. The compounds are also known contaminants in the Lower Willamette River and the Columbia Slough.
The settlement will not impact the City and Port's share of Portland Harbor liability, but the City of Portland indicated that use of settlement funds will be focused on Black, Indigenous, and communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by environmental contamination.