Recently in toxic chemical exposure Category

March 28, 2010

Big Verdict Against DuPont Could Impact Asheville CTS Site

DuPont Logo.jpgLast Friday, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals upheld most of a $381 Million verdict entered against DuPont by a West Virginia state court jury. DuPont, Co., the world's third largest chemical company, was found liable for damages caused by a waste pile DuPont created at a zinc-smelting plant in Spelter, West Virginia.

The Harrison County jury found that DuPont negligently created a 60-acre pile that contained arsenic, cadmium and lead. As a result of the verdict, DuPont had to pay $55.5 million to remove potentially hazardous soil and dust from surrounding homes and businesses, approximately $130 million for medical monitoring of those living near the plant, and $192.2 million in punitive damages. The jury found that DuPont actively tried to conceal the harm they had caused.

I have previously posted about the TCE contamination at the CTS Asheville Mills Gap Facility. One wonders why none of the residents who live near the CTS contamination site in Asheville, NC have taken legal action against CTS. The toxic chemical contamination surrounding the Mills Gap site has caused residents living nearby to have various health problems, and most of them have had to stop using their well water. So far, there has been no clean up of the contamination. One also wonders why the City of Asheville has not called for CTS to clean-up of the area.

The answer as to why no one has sued CTS may be because those harmed by the contamination simply waited too long to act. In North Carolina, there is a 3 year statute of limitations for most tort actions, including negligence claims. This means that someone who has suffered an injury as a result of an individual's or a corporation's negligence has 3 years in which to file a lawsuit. Failing to file a lawsuit before the 3rd anniversary of the injury may be fatal to the claim, and the injured person may be forever barred from recovering for their harms and losses. In some instances, the statute of limitations can be tolled, or put on hold, such as where the injured person first learns of the harm after the statute of limitations has already ran. Either way, CTS should at least pay for the clean up of the Mills Gap site.

If you have been seriously injured or harmed as a result of another's negligence or recklessness, you should speak with an experienced trial attorney as soon as possible. Hiring an attorney early enables your attorney to protect your legal rights from the beginning.

Many people take the "wait and see" approach, hoping that they can negotiate a settlement with the adverse party's insurance company. This is optimistic at best, and naive at worst. Insurance companies have the upper hand in this situation because they know how the system works. They know that individuals do not know the law, and they know that the longer they can string an injured person along, all the while delaying the hiring of an attorney, the more difficult it will be for the injured person to prove their case if they do end up filing a lawsuit. Very often, important evidence disappears with the passage of time. Witnesses' memories fade.

Taking the "wait and see" approach will adversely affect your ability to recover full damages for your harms and losses.

March 22, 2010

Asheville Residents Call For Investigation Of CTS Site

Thumbnail image for CTS Contamination 1.jpgFor years, those living near the former CTS Corporation on Mills Gap Road in Asheville have complained of foul smelling tap water, contaminated ground water, and health problems neighbors believe are caused by the dumping of the dangerous solvent TCE. Despite the documented pollution, no clean-up has occurred, and CTS refuses to accept responsibility.

Concerned citizens from Asheville gathered in Skyland last week and called for investigations by Congress and the North Carolina Attorney General's Office regarding alleged mistakes and cover-ups by those charged with investigating the pollution at the former CTS/Mills Gap site.

The citizens group criticized a recent report released by the North Carolina Division of Public Health. That report concluded that private well samples collected over the last 10 years did not pose a danger to the public health because those living in the area no longer use their private wells or the levels in the wells that are still in use are too low to cause harm. The report's conclusion is evasive and vague. The only reason the private well water of those living close to the former CTS site is not harmful is because those residents have stopped drinking the water. The citizens group clearly has a valid point.

Further investigation is warranted, and a major clean-up is needed to restore this area in Buncombe County to its unpolluted condition. CTS should step up financially and make right the wrong it has inflicted. Dumping industrial solvents onto the ground near a residential area is idiotic and indicates a reckless indifference to the rights and safety of those living in close proximity to the site.

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March 4, 2010

North Carolina Legislature Should Ban BPA In Children's Products

BPA products for kids.jpegWisconsin's governor signed a bill into law yesterday that bans the dangerous chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in all cups sold in Wisconsin for children three years and younger. The ban will cover baby bottles, sippy cups and other similar products used by young children. Many studies have found that BPA is an endocrine-disrupter in animals, including early sexual maturation, altered development of the mammary gland and decreased sperm production in offspring.

A recent FDA announcement indicated "some concern" about how BPA may affect babies and children. The federal agency has now put $30 million aside for additional research studies over the next 2 years. Last year, a Harvard study found that participants who drank for one week from the popular polycarbonate (hard plastic) bottles, commonly used as water and baby bottles, had a 66% increase of BPA in their urine. The study concluded that BPA is leached from the container into the blood stream in sufficient quantities to show up in the urine.

The dangerous chemical has already been banned in Minnesota, Connecticut, the city of Chicago, and three counties in New York. Legislation to ban BPA in childrens' products is currently pending in Washington, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington, D.C. Canada was the first country to pass a nationwide ban of BPA. The North Carolina Legislature should take steps to protect all North Carolina children from BPA because children do not get to chose the type of container from which they drink.

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November 18, 2009

Dangerous Carcinogen (TCE) Migrating in Asheville

CTS Contamination.jpgTrichloroethylene (TCE) is a clear, non-flammable solvent with a sweet smell that is commonly used as an industrial solvent for cleaning electronic components. This chemical was widely used by CTS of Asheville at the Mills Gap Road facility in south Asheville until the plant closed in 1986. The company did not properly contain and/or dispose of the cancer causing chemical and now much of the drinkable ground water in the communities surrounding the facitily are dangerously polluted.

In 1999, one family that lived near the CTS site noticed a foul-smelling oily substance in the spring that supplied their drinking water. EPA testing of that water showed that it contained 21,000 parts per billion (ppb) of tri-chloroethylene. That level of contamination is 4,200 times the EPA allowable limit for drinking water. Two members of that family suffer from brain tumors they believe were caused by their exposure to TCE.

Recent water testing in the area indicates that the TCE contamination is increasing and spreading. One Mills Gap Road property owner's water had 21,000 ppb of TCE in 1999, but now her water has a TCE level of 35,000 ppb. From an enviromental standpoint, that is a huge increase.

The EPA has ordered CTS of Asheville to clean-up the site, but so far all they have done is install a TCE soil-vapor extracting device in the most contaminated section of the property. The residents of this area are justifiably concerned about their health and their property values, but the local government has done little to support them. As a result, some residents are considering taking legal action.