(CN) - U.S. power company AES fouled a Dominican Republic beach by dumping toxic coal ash that caused severe fetal deformities, including missing limbs and extruding organs in five families' babies, the parents say. They say AES bribed officials to dump the poison and lied to residents, calling the "toxic dust" benign, and even useful for construction.
Anajai Calcaño Pallano and six other parents from the Dominican town of Arroyo Barril claim that AES Corp. and four affiliates bribed local officials to dump coal ash on a "pristine" beach in Samaná Bay.
The companies allegedly deemed legal disposal of the coal-burning waste from a Puerto Rico power plan too expensive, and after exporting it to the Dominican Republic, told residents that the waste was benign and could even be used in construction, according to the complaint in New Castle County Court, Delaware.
In reality, the dumped coal ash contains an array of heavy metals, which the plaintiffs say were left exposed to the elements, creating "clouds of toxic dust" that they inhaled, ingested or absorbed through their skin.
The heavy metals in coal ash are particularly poisonous for developing fetuses, and caused severe deformities, including Siamese twins that died after birth, a baby born with bony anomalies and missing a kidney, and babies born with organs extruding from their bodies, according to the complaint.
Some fetuses died before birth, while other babies died shortly after birth as the result of their deformities, the lawsuit claims.
Defendants dumped "tens of thousands of tons" of toxic fly ash and coal ash on two Dominican Republic beaches from October 2003 to March 2004, according to the complaint. In violation of international law, AES allegedly provided no warning, remediation or study of the effects of the dumping.
The families seek compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and wrongful death. They are represented by Ian Bifferato of Wilmington.
AES is headquartered in Virginia and incorporated in Delaware.
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