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First Class Action Suit For Fly Ash Dump Contamination Filed

Posted in In The News,News on November 29, 2007

Murphy, Falcon & Murphy has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Gambrills, Maryland residents whose wells have been allegedly contaminated by nearby fly ash dump sites operated by Constellation Power Source Generation, Inc. The announcement was made by former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne Curry.

To insure the immediate safety of Gambrills residents, the firm has asked for injunctive relief requesting court-ordered medical monitoring, air and soil testing, and well water screening for the community to be paid for by Constellation.

The firm currently represents property owners affected by groundwater contaminated with toxins including arsenic, lead, and cadmium, which are linked to cancer and other serious health effects. So far, 34 residential wells have been polluted by Constellation’s reckless negligence. The dump sites also sit atop the deep aquifer that supplies Crofton’s municipal wells, which residents fear may be threatened by future contamination.

Murphy, Falcon & Murphy Weighs In On the Issue

One of the attorneys at the firm who will be representing these clients commented that the blatant injustice that this multi-billion a year energy company is putting this community through is simply unacceptable. More than that, they claimed for years that by dumping fly ash into the old mine site, they were benefited the people.

Constellation appears to be under the impression that the community should be willing to purchase bottle water, have hoses connected to fire hydrants, and deal with other issues, all while having to worry about their personal health and property value.

Residents in the area are vocally terrified about what symptoms they could deal with after drinking the water from these wells for countless years. Some people are even afraid to shower or bath with this water anymore. No one will purchase their homes as they continue to find out more news about Constellation possible knowing about the leaks years ago.

Constellation Still Facing Serious Obstacles

Even though Constellation agreed to pay $1 million fine, participate in a state supervised cleanup, and pay for residents to have a permanent connection to public water, they aren’t out of hot water just yet.

Residents are upset that this decree does not even address the health issues and medical needs they have faced in the past and will face in the future. It also fails to make amends for the extensive suffering and property value damage it has caused local residents.

“We salute the Maryland Department of Environment for compelling willful polluters like Constellation to start cleaning up from repeated violations of the law”, said Curry “But we also have no reason to trust the defendant to take full accountability and responsibility for the damage that’s been done to this community since 1999.”

“While the consent decree looks to the future, this class action suit may be the only way citizens’ rights are ultimately protected,” Curry said.

Allegations

The class action claims that the company was aware of the dangerous substances in the water that had been linked to serious health threats such as cancer. Allegedly, the Waugh Chapel and Turner Pit dump sites had been leaking in Gambrills since 1999, and despite Constellations awareness, they never provided residents with any warning.

Further, the suit claims that Constellation intentionally mislead and deceived neighbors into believing that the waste minerals were not a threat to the surrounding areas in any way. Not only that, but they had detected potentially cancerous contaminants in the well water that were three times the safe level.

Demands

In addition to demanding medical and well water monitoring, the class action suit asks the court to order the defendant to pay total remediation and restoration costs to restore the soil, water supplies, and property to the condition before contamination as well as to pay compensation and punitive damages. The suit also demands a full clean up to eliminate any future threat.

Victims

Property owners were made aware of the possible issues when county health officials started testing the wells in 2006—almost seven years after Constellation had first noticed potential leak issues.

Constellation began supplying cases of bottled water and has laid temporary, above-ground pipes, and hoses to bring public water from distant fire hydrants to some affected properties.

Residents complain the pipes and hoses have already frozen in the season’s first cold nights, leaving homes completely without water.

Wells that serve as Crofton’s public water supply have not been tested for specific contamination from the sites, but the deep aquifer the wells draw from also rests under the fly ash dumps.