The US state of Oregon has brought a legal case against the Monsanto Chemical Company. State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum headed the allegations on Thursday, accusing Monsanto of using polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in its products while withholding information about the serious toxicity of the chemicals.

In an official statement, Rosenblum accused Monsanto of acting deceptively in their decision to conceal the true effects of PCBs on the environment. She claims that her state must now deal with the widespread consequences, saying:

“PCBs are extremely hard to get rid of — and it will take significant time and resources to fully clean them up. It only makes sense that the manufacturer of these PCBs, Monsanto, help clean up this mess with dollars.”

Rosenblum’s lawsuit seeks up to $100 million in punitive damages, although early estimations reveal that the true cost of the clean-up could reach $1 billion.  In response, Monsanto vice-president of global strategy Scott S Partridge said that the claims were baseless. He stated that “Monsanto voluntarily stopped producing PCBs more than 40 years ago and didn’t use or dispose of any PCBs in the state of Oregon.”

The chemical compounds, found in river sediments across Oregon, make their way up the food chain to the detriment of fish and local wildlife, destroying natural ecosystems. A variety of animals are at risk, from fish, to birds of prey, to orca whales. There have even been some cases of humans testing positive from the consumption of PCB-contaminated fish.

It is not the first time that Monsanto has been sued over their PCB products. Washington became the first state to file a case against the agrochemical giant in 2016; and since then several cities on the West Coast have followed suit.

This is the second time in recent months that Monsanto has been embroiled in a legal battle. Across numerous states in the Midwest region, complaints of soybean-injury due to the use of dicamba-based herbicides have soared exponentially from 3 in 2015 to 2,708 in 2017. Countless lawsuits from local producers have accused Monsanto of company negligence, defective design of the soybean seed, and (herbicide) trespass.

Integrated Pest Management based at the University of Missouri recorded 310 complaints in Missouri alone; and a substantial 986 cases in neighbouring Arkansas. The swift escalation in complaints has already led to many state agricultural departments enforcing stricter guidelines on the use of dicamba; with the Arkansas State Plant Board going so far as to ban the use of dicamba herbicides between April and October of 2018, subject to approval by the Arkansas Legislative Council.

It is estimated that over 3.6 million acres have been damaged by intrusive dicamba herbicides. Combined with the PCB accusations it appears as though Monsanto are in for a rough few months, and the company must surely be concerned that the patience of environmental agencies and local food producers might soon run out.