SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An eight-year-old lawsuit filed against PG&E Co. for alleged releases of dioxin from stored utility poles into San Francisco Bay and Humboldt Bay has been settled, according to the environmental group that filed the lawsuit.
The Ecological Rights Foundation, based in Garberville (Humboldt County), alleged in its 2010 lawsuit that dioxin, a chemical that causes cancer and birth defects, was carried by storm water runoff from treated wooden utility poles, sawdust and wood waste into the two bays.
The settlement was signed by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco on Friday and announced by the foundation on Monday.
Under the agreement, which will remain in effect through 2026, PG&E will identify storage yards containing treated poles and will test and implement technologies for reducing dioxin runoff to levels that pose lower risk to human health and wildlife.
The technologies could include storage improvements, such as covering poles or keeping them indoors; improvements in storm water treatment; and possibly the use of different materials, such as cement or steel, for utility poles, according to foundation attorney Fredric Evenson.
Evenson said, “Dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science.