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Spokane shows true grit: city sues Monsanto for polluting their river and harming people and beavers

Spokane River

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(NaturalNews) Spokane is a mid-size city in eastern Washington whose history is intimately connected to the beautiful river and falls located in its center. In the early 1970s, the city hosted the world's very first environmentally themed World's Fair (Expo 1974), at which President Richard Nixon made an appearance, speaking to the nation from a floating podium on the Spokane River. At the time, it was the smallest city to host a World's Fair. Some 40 years later, Monsanto has tainted this environmental legacy by polluting the Spokane River (a tributary of the Columbia River), dumping PCBs into the river, which, in turn, has caused its remaining fish to be unsuitable for human consumption.

Spokane may not be as well known or as large as its neighbor Seattle, but the city is standing up to one of the largest agrochemical corporations in the world. The River City, as it is known, is taking Monsanto to court for contaminating its most visible resource with PCBs.


The river, despite Monsanto's pollution, is beautiful and winds lazily through the city, and is home to beavers, fish, ducks and other wildlife. Its waters are cold even in the summer, and it is a favorite getaway for the nature-loving residents of Spokane. Despite the well documented contamination, people still swim in it and enjoy exercising and cooling down there in the summer. I know this because I have swum in this river and can say with confidence that it is more than just another polluted water resource in some distant place. The Spokane River is one of the most coveted pieces of nature in this small city, a treasure that has been tainted by Monsanto for decades, and now the City of Spokane is seeking damages for the money they will have to spend to return the river to its pristine state.

According to a press release from Spokane, the city has already filed a lawsuit against agrochemical giant Monsanto as they struggle to keep up with water quality standards:

The City of Spokane, WA, today took an important step in improving the vitality and health of the Spokane River. Spokane filed a lawsuit to hold Monsanto Company responsible for PCB contamination that finds its way into the City's stormwater that flows into the Spokane River. According to a recent federal case, Spokane will become subject to a PCB TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load, which is a maximum amount of pollutant that a body of water such as the Spokane River can receive while still meeting water quality standards.


PCBs are toxic and are polluting our bays, oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, soil and air... Thanks, Monsanto

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are chemical compounds that were developed and manufactured by Monsanto from 1930 until 1979, when Congress finally put a ban on them due to the danger they pose to humans and the environment. PCBs have been linked to many different types of cancers including breast cancer, liver cancer, melanoma and others. Despite Monsanto knowing that PCBs were dangerous and toxic, they continued to increase their production, and they concealed this fact in order to make a tidy profit.

As a result, the City of Spokane now has to spend $300 million in order to keep PCBs from entering the river in the coming years, and according to Marlene Feist, the city's utilities spokeswoman, the suit is going to be a piece of "long-term litigation."

Monsanto — in a typical move — shirked responsibility entirely and claimed that they should not be held accountable. Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord told The Spokesman-Review:

... Monsanto is not responsible for the costs alleged in this matter. ... PCBs sold at the time were a lawful and useful product that was then incorporated by third parties into other useful products. If improper disposal or other improper uses created the necessity for clean-up costs, then these other third parties would bear responsibility for these costs.


Screw you, Monsanto

Yes, Monsanto, pass the buck on to a third party. It is odd how the company that originally created the cancerous PCB is now attempting to pass responsibility on to someone else. Should we perhaps blame the beavers, which are sickened by the PCBs, for swimming in polluted water, Monsanto? And what of the fish that have died because their environment became unlivable? Should they have grown legs and lived on land instead? And is it their responsibility for choosing the polluted river as their environment?

Whatever Monsanto says, one thing is for certain, the City of Spokane has demonstrated "true grit" for filing this lawsuit, and the whole town and many others are taking a stand for their environment — including the marmots and beavers who call the Spokane River their home.





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