Burlington School District sues Monsanto over PCB contamination
The Burlington School District in Vermont is suing Monsanto over its role in manufacturing, marketing, and distributing PCBs. Contamination from the chemicals led to the closure of Burlington High School and Burlington Technical Center in 2020 after air testing found concentrations significantly exceeded health and safety standards. The district says the federal lawsuit seeks to recover money spent on the demolition and replacement of the school and technical center, a project estimated to cost at least $190 million.
“Today’s filing brings us one step closer to holding the producer of these toxic chemicals accountable for the harm it has inflicted on our community,” said BSD Superintendent Tom Flanagan in a statement. “On behalf of the District, I would again like to thank our partners in this effort, Vermont law firm Langrock Sperry & Wool and national law firms Seeger Weiss LLP and Grant & Eisenhofer.”
“Despite knowing that PCBs were highly toxic to humans and animals, Monsanto manufactured and sold these toxic chemicals for decades and misled the public about the dangers posed by its products," said Matt Pawa, partner at Seeger Weiss LLP. "Because of Monsanto's deception, Burlington High School and Burlington Technical Center are contaminated with levels of PCBs significantly in excess of health and safety standards, rendering the buildings unusable and unsafe. We look forward to holding Monsanto accountable.”
Monsanto was sold to Bayer in 2018.
“This lawsuit has no merit but hopefully it will shed light on the role of the state of Vermont, the Burlington School District and the manufacturers of the building products at issue in creating the perfect storm that resulted in unwarranted actions to abandon the school, move students to a converted Macy’s, cancel renovation plans and spend $165 million, more than twice the renovation cost, to build a new high school – actions that could have been avoided," Bayer said in a statement to WAMC.