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Spokane, City of v. Monsanto Co.

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20088
Nos. 15-cv-00201, (E.D. Wash., 07/10/2017) (Mendoza, J.)

A district court held that an agriculture company cannot pursue Superfund cost recovery against Spokane, Washington, over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the Spokane River. The company produced PCBs from 1935 to 1970 that the city of Spokane claimed contributed to the impairment of the river. Spokane alleged that the agricultural company was aware for decades that PCBs were toxic and contaminating natural resources and living organisms. The company alleged that PCBs have numerous origins other than its manufacturing, that Spokane authorized and continues to authorize the use of products containing PCBs, and that Spokane is responsible for discharging PCB’s into the river. The agricultural company sought to recover the costs of investigating its liability under CERCLA. The court held that the agricultural company did not establish a cause of action under CERCLA as its investigative expenses were only to evaluate its liability and defend against legal claims, and the law does not allow it to preemptively bring an action another party it believes may be liable for future costs. The claim was dismissed.