As You Sow v. PPG Industries, Inc., et al.

Posted: 11/26/1996  browse the case archive

The Honorable Stuart R. Pollack, Judge of the San Francisco County Superior Court, entered a Judgment according to the terms of the settlement between Proposition 65 private enforcer and whistleblower As You Sow ("AYS") and chemical manufacturer PPG Industries, Inc. on November 26, 1996. The settlement resolved AYS's claims that PPG shipped bulk quantities of chemicals (railway tanker cars carrying 55-gallon or larger chemical containers) in California without providing the health hazard warnings required by Proposition 65. The chemicals at issue in the private enforcement action commenced by AYS on July 1, 1996 (Case No. CGC-96-979398) include trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, methylene chloride, paradichlorobenzene, and ethyl chloride, all of which are listed pursuant to Proposition 65 as chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive harm or birth defects.

The parties' settlement required PPG to revise the MSDS included with its chemicals to refer to the health hazards associated with exposures to the chemical, and to revise the labels used on containers of chemicals 55 gallons and smaller to include specific health hazard warnings requested by AYS. For containers larger than 55 gallons, PPG provided customers with letters regarding the health hazards associated with exposures to the listed chemicals, and requested that they apply appropriate health hazard warning labels to any containers in which they repackage the bulk chemicals for sale in California. Under the terms of the agreement, PPG was also required to provide letters and labels to customers with unlabeled products shipped prior to the settlement for application prior to sale or distribution in California. PPG paid $109,000 in settlement payments, including a $47,000 payment in lieu of civil penalties to AYS, who distributed the funds to California nonprofit groups working to reduce exposures to toxic chemicals, and a civil penalty payment of $8,000 to be divided between the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment ($6,000) and AYS ($2,000). PPG also agreed to reimburse AYS for the fees and costs incurred investigating, litigating, and negotiating a settlement of the private enforcement action in the public interest.

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