PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Four more plaintiffs say Rohm and Haas and other chemical companies caused a cancer cluster in McCullom Lake Village, a village of 1,000 in Northern Illinois where more than two dozen people contracted a rare malignant brain cancer than affects only 7 of 100,000 people nationwide.
Since the first three cases were filed in April 2006, more than 25 other plaintiffs have sued as well. They say Rohm and Haas, Morton International and Dow Chemical Co. caused the cancer cluster by their decades-old practice of dumping toxic chemicals such as trichloroethene, 1-1-DCE and vinyl chloride into the air, soil and groundwater. The chemical companies run plants next door to McCullom Lake, in Ringwood, Ill.
Each of the four plaintiffs in the most recent cases, Joseph Tallurico, Darlene Jackson, Catherine Davin and Keith Schaedel, developed brain cancer.
They say Rohm and Haas’ own former epidemiologist has acknowledged that exposure to such chemicals, especially vinyl chloride, can cause brain cancer in humans.
The dumping and release of TCE, 1-1-DCE and vinyl chloride allegedly began around 1960, when Morton began disposing chemical waste into an 8-acre lagoon on the outskirts of its Ringwood facility, a lagoon built without any lining or other structural feature designed to contain anything or inhibit seepage of waste and other contents into groundwater. When the lagoon was closed, Morton merely filled it and covered it with topsoil, allowing years of rainwater to spread its toxic contents, according to the complaints.
The plaintiffs say the companies concealed information about the lagoon from state and local officials, and from the residents of McCullom Lake Village, and lied about the amount and nature of the dumping. For example, the defendants told the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency that the contamination had been discovered in the mid-to-late 1980s, when in reality it had been discovered more than 10 years before, the plaintiffs say.
And they say that after a 1978 spill of vinylidene chloride, the defendants reported to the IEPA that a small amount had been spilled and recovered, when in reality the amount was 50 times as much, nearly 1,000 gallons.
The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for fraud, wantonness, negligence and other charges. The four separate complaints were filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas by Aaron Freiwald with Layser & Freiwald.