US environmental groups plan a PCB lawsuit Fish Farming Today Published: 23 January, 2004
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) have filed legal notice under California’s main toxic chemicals law, Proposition 65, of plans to sue the manufacturers, distributors and retailers of farmed salmon over PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in their fish.
The groups complain that federal regulators have failed to take action despite the publication of numerous studies which they claim have shown high concentrations of PCBs in farmed salmon.
The salmon farming industry can and must produce a heart-healthy food, without the PCB risks that farmed salmon currently pose, said Jane Houlihan, vice president for research at EWG. The federal Food and Drug Administration has shown no intention of taking action on this issue, so we are pursuing our case under California’s toxics right-to-know law.
The 50 defendants named in the filings include farmed salmon producers based in Canada and Europe, such as Marine Harvest, Panfish, Stolt Sea Farm, Heritage and Mainstream, as well as large U.S.-based retailers such as Safeway, Kroger, Albertson’s and Costco.
This action follows on from the recent publication in Science of the $2.5 million study on contaminants in salmon, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, who have previously supported work by the EWG.
Proposition 65 is California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, which ensures the public’s right-to-know about toxic chemicals in consumer products and in the environment. The law provides that a company must either reformulate its product or notify consumers if the product contains a hazardous level of any chemical. After the 60-day notice period a formal lawsuit may be filed. Public interest groups like CEH and EWG use Prop. 65 to hold corporations accountable for their environmental and health impacts.