CHESAPEAKE, Va. (CN) – Dozens of families say they suffer increased risks of cancer, respiratory tract bleeding, organ damage, fetal brain damage and birth defects because a Virginia utility dumped 1.5 million tons of toxic coal ash in a swamp, polluting groundwater, and failing to warn about it.
The 61 plaintiffs want the coal ash removed, medical and water testing, extended monitoring of water, and their wells and sewage systems replaced. Each one also seeks $750 million in damages.
They sued Virginia Electric and Power Co., Dominion Resources, Dominion Virginia Power and Combustion Products Management in Chesapeake City Court.
The families say the defendants dumped the toxic coal ash and chemical binding into an unlined, 220-acre pit for 5 years, period beginning in 2002.
Children younger than 6 are particularly vulnerable to the toxins, the complaint states.
Lead plaintiff Darryl Sears says the companies knew the material would be harmful if it leached into water, and knew that a swamp was an inappropriate place to put to it. But Sears says they did it anyway because it was cheaper than putting it into a regulated, lined landfill.
Sears also claims the defendants orchestrated a misinformation campaign to hide what they were doing, telling regulators they were filling the swamp to develop a golf course on the site.
The plaintiffs seek billions of dollars in damages. They are represented by Ted Yoakam with Yoakam & Etheridge of Virginia Beach.