Corporate Crime Reporter, October 19, 2006
More than 600 West African plantation workers have sued Shell Chemical, Dow Chemical, Amvac and Dole Food Company alleging that the pesticide DBCP caused them to become sterile.
DBCP was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1979 because it causes deformities, sterility, cancer and birth defects.
The lawsuit, filed last month in federal court in Los Angeles, alleges that the chemical companies broke international law and committed crimes against humanity by using the banned pesticide on banana and pineapple plantations in the Ivory Coast.
The lawsuit was brought for the workers by Long Beach, California toxic tort attorney Raphael Metzger.
Metzger said that many of his clients were exposed when they were children, laboring in the plantations.
“They were never told about the hazards of DBCP nor given protective equipment,” Metzger said. “Now, half of the workers tested are sterile and many suffer from other physical injuries.”
The lawsuit was filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act – a federal law that allows foreigners to seek redress in U.S. federal courts for wrongs committed abroad.
Dole and the chemical companies have faced similar charges in the past regarding their sale of DBCP to plantations in developing countries.
The cases brought by foreign plantation workers all came decades after the EPA banned the chemical in the United States in 1979 and decades after American production workers exposed to the pesticide became sterile.