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Louisiana Couple Files Lawsuit Over Toxic Waste Leak

A husband and wife from Gonzales, Louisiana have filed a lawsuit over toxic waste that leaked onto their property and negatively impacted their health. The lawsuit alleges that the toxic waste originated from an old landfill, the Spedale Landfill, on a neighboring property. Although there have been ongoing efforts to remediate the toxic waste from that property, the lawsuit alleges that some of the waste was still able to make it to their property.

The affected property, in Ascension Parish, was purchased by the couple back in 2009. Since that time, the lawsuit alleges that the contaminants have had a serious impact on their health. One of the handful of contaminants from the toxic waste is toluene tar. Toluene is a chemical derived from Benzene, a chemical that causes cell and central nervous system (CNS) damage. Health effects include tiredness, weakness and confusion. Benzene and other products derived from Benzene are known contaminants at hazardous waste sites that can easily seep into soil and groundwater. Some of the other known contaminants at the site are:

  • Diphenylamine
  • N-nitrosodiphenylamine
  • Lead & other heavy metals

N-nitrosodiphenylamine is no longer widely used, but it used to play a large role in the manufacture of rubber tires. Now, it is considered a carcinogenic by the CDC. Carcinogens are substances that have been linked to the development of cancer.

From 2009 until March of last year, the couple was not told about the contamination on their property. They filed the lawsuit less than a month ago. Chemtura Corp. and Chemtura USA Corp. are named as defendants. Should the Louisiana couple's allegations be confirmed, it would mean that the landfill contamination had migrated further than studies originally suggested. The defendants and the state of Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) both stand by claims that contamination from the old landfill has not reached the plaintiff's property.

This is not the first time that residents within the vicinity of the landfill have filed complaints alleging property contamination. Back in 2008, a number of residents in the area filed claims that toxic waste on their property had caused negative health effects, but their claims were rejected.

Toluene tar arrived at Spedale in the 1960s when a company called Uniroyal Chemical Co. was permitted to dump toluene tar waste at the landfill. Chemtura did not take over Spedale until 2005. Over the past five months, Chemtura has hired contractors to dig into the soil and remove the dirt within the boundaries of the contamination zone and haul it away. The contamination zone that Chemtura has been working on extends 15 feet into the ground and encompasses a 1.6 acre radius.

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