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DUPONT CLASS ACTION SAYS INDIANA NEIGHBORHOOD EXPOSED TO ARSENIC

By Paul Tassin

October 10, 2016

 

Two residents of the West Calumet Public Housing Complex in East Chicago, Ind. say nearby industrial sites exposed their entire neighborhood to lead and arsenic.

Plaintiffs LeRithea Rolan and Lamottca Brooks say their homes have been “inundated with massive levels of hazardous lead and arsenic generated by Defendants.”

They allege defendants DuPont, The Chemours Company and Atlantic Richfield Company are to blame for these widespread toxins.

The plaintiffs say that for years, all three defendants owned and operated manufacturing and metal refining facilities within the vicinity of West Calumet.

Defendant DuPont owns a local pesticide lead arsenate production facility nearby.

Defendant ARC’s facilities allegedly included “a pulverizing mill, white lead storage area, a chemical laboratory, a machine shop, a zinc oxide experimental unit building and plant, a silver refinery and a zinc refinery.”

Both DuPont and ARC released lead and arsenic from these facilities into the region near West Calumet, the plaintiffs claim.

They believe that they, their children and more than 1,000 other West Calumet residents have been exposed to this lead and arsenic through ingestion, inhalation and dermal exposure.

The plaintiffs say that in July 2016, West Calumet residents received a letter from the EPA saying that test results had revealed dangerously high levels of lead and arsenic in the soil at their homes.

Some West Calumet residents were told to keep their windows closed and not to allow their children to go outside.

An EPA flyer distributed in July 2016 warned residents to significantly curtail their outdoor activities, advising them to avoid digging or gardening in their yards and to prevent their children from playing in dirt or mulch.

Other official warnings allegedly went even further. In that letter sent out the same month as the EPA’s warnings, East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland advised residents to relocate their household to someplace safer. The East Chicago Housing Authority told residents it was interested in demolishing the 346 West Calumet housing units.

EPA guidance cited by the plaintiffs states that lead is highly toxic and that exposure to lead is particularly dangerous for children age six or younger.

Plaintiffs say that “[e]ven low levels of lead in the blood of children can cause irreversible behavioral problems, learning disabilities and impaired growth.”

Other EPA guidance says arsenic is a known human carcinogen. It can purportedly cause “gastrointestinal harm, irritation of the skin and mucous membranes, negative impacts on the brain and nervous system, and lung, skin, bladder and liver cancer.”

Rolan and Brooks are proposing to represent a Class consisting of all persons who since the EPA’s initial announcement in July 2016 have lived on property within the vicinity of West Calumet that has been affected by the release of lead and arsenic from DuPont’s and ARC’s facilities.

They seek an award of damages to cover response costs under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act – also known as CERCLA or the Superfund statute.

They also seek damages to cover the alleged harm suffered directly by the Class Members, plus attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation.

Counsel for the West Calumet plaintiffs are attorneys James D. Brusslan and Jason B. Hirsh of Levenfeld Pearlstein LLC and Thomas A. Zimmerman Jr. and Sharon A. Harris of Zimmerman Law Offices PC.

The DuPont Arsenic Contamination Class Action Lawsuit is Rolan, et al. v. Atlantic Richfield Co., et al., Case No. 1:16-cv-00357, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

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