Leading this week’s Green Gauge, a breakdown of companies in the news for behavior affecting the environment, are Kimberly-Clark and NCR who are being sued along with seven others for PCB pollution dating back more than 50 years.
Selections of headlines about publicly-traded companies were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.
The long-lasting risks of environmental pollution were revealed recently, as the U.S. Department of Justice filed a major law suit against Kimberly-Clark, NCR, and nine other companies to pay for continued clean-up and environmental restoration work relating to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) pollution in Wisconsin’s Fox River and Green Bay from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. Although $300 million has already been paid for clean-up efforts at the site, the Department of Justice claims that $550 million of additional clean-up and $400 million of natural resource restoration work is still required. The lawsuit claims that the companies originally responsible for the pollution have resisted taking full financial responsibility for the clean-up costs as well as the efforts necessary to repair the long-term damage to natural resources that resulted from the pollution.
Chinese authorities sued Zijin Mining for nearly $3 million following the collapse of a tailings dam near a tin mine controlled by the company. In addition to the significant environmental damage caused by the resulting pollution, 28 people are dead or missing as a result of the dam’s collapse. The incident follows another recent pollution incident at one of the company’s gold mines in China in July that killed more than 2,000 fish.
Bayer recently settled with a group of 8 Texas rice farmers for $290,000 for damages suffered as a result of the 2006 contamination of rice by genetically modified seeds that had not been approved for cultivation. The revelations of the contamination led to restrictions on rice imports by Japan and the E.U. as well as a subsequent drop in rice prices. Bayer has lost all of the recent cases in the U.S. related to the incident in the past year, including a $48 judgment in punitive and compensatory damages by an Arkansas jury in April. The recent settlement may indicate a potential change in Bayer’s strategy to begin to settle the more than 6,000 claims by rice farmers against Bayer currently in the court system.