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Brian Jorde Quoted by Telegraph Herald on Toxic Exposure at Clinton Engines Site in Iowa

Researcher holds a test tube with water in a hand in blue glove

Domina Law Group Managing Lawyer Brian Jorde was recently quoted by the Telegraph Herald in an article discussing a new lawsuit filed by residents who say their health complications were caused by exposure to chemicals at a city-owned site.

As noted in the article, Jorde and our firm are representing four plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the City of Maquoketa, Iowa. The lawsuit, filed in Iowa District Court for Jackson County, alleges that city officials knew about trichloroethene (TCE) contamination at the former Clinton Engines site for years, but failed to timely alert nearby residents.

The previous owner of the site, Clinton Machine Co., used TCE in its operations from 1950 to the 1990s. TCE is considered a known carcinogen by the U.S. EPA and is associated with adverse health consequences involving the liver, kidneys, immune system, and nervous system. Short-term exposure can also cause reproductive harm to developing fetuses.

According to records from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the agency began investigating the site in 1999 for potential contamination. The city took control of the site the following year and enrolled it in a state program in 2008 to assess and implement remedial actions for contamination.

In 2013, officials found TCE in groundwater samples from the local neighborhood, but did not inform residents at the time. Officials later said this was because no homes in the area had private wells.

TCE was found in additional groundwater samples in 2019. At that time, officials had learned that evaporated water vapor from groundwater contaminated with TCE can infiltrate indoor spaces and contaminate the air. City officials asked residents to voluntarily enroll in a TCE vapor monitoring program in early 2020. The EPA began installing wells around the Clinton Engines site in October 2022 to monitor the contamination.

The timeline is concerning for residents affected by the contamination. As Brian Jorde told the Telegraph Herald:

“The city knew of these risks and potential detrimental effects to the citizens in the area and waited years and years and years before they put them on notice. Not surprisingly … you’ve got folks with lots of symptoms that are classic to TCE exposure.”

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs claim that they suffered from autoimmune disorders, multiple miscarriages, neuralgia, a brain tumor, vasculitis, and other health problems associated with contamination in homes located close to the Clinton Engines site.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and special damages, including expenses for medical and psychological care and loss of property value. A trial-scheduling conference is set for early March.

You can read the full Telegraph Herald article featuring quotes from Brian Jorde here.