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Westport, Town of v. Monsanto Co.

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20164
Nos. 17-1461, (1st Cir., 12/08/2017)

The First Circuit held that a pesticide company is not liable for cleaning up PCB-laden caulk installed in a Massachusetts middle school in the 1960s. Before August 1970, the pesticide company sold PCB mixtures to formulators of building materials, who then incorporated them into various end products. The company continually updated its direct customers with information about the chemical properties and health effects of its PCB mixtures. During window replacements in 2011, a middle school in Westport, Massachusetts discovered PCBs in caulk surrounding the windows that were installed in 1969, and sued the pesticide company seeking more than $23 million in cleanup costs. The pesticide company argued that it was not reasonably foreseeable in 1969 that vapors from PCBs in the caulk additive would be severe enough to risk human health. The court agreed, adding that Westport's own experts conceded that there is no scientific literature to date demonstrating that PCBs volatilize from caulk at a rate that is hazardous to human health. Further, there was no evidence that remediation was warranted. The case was dismissed.