South Carolina Neighbors Sue Plant, Claim Pollution Caused Cancer

January 21, 2014
Chemical Plant

A Spartanburg, South Carolina neighborhood is suing a chemical plant, saying pollution has caused dozens of cancer cases.

The lawsuit filed last week in federal court accuses a Hoechst Celanese polyester manufacturing plant of polluting groundwater and streams around the plant for dozens of years. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of all people living within two miles of the plant and asks for damages as well as a health monitoring program, according to the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg.

Hoechst Celanese said there is no basis for the suit. State and federal environmental officials studied cancer data in the neighborhoods, but issued a report in 2011 saying no link existed with the chemicals from the plant.

“Simply put, the environmental conditions at the Spartanburg plant site have not caused adverse health effects or a loss of property values in the nearby residences,” Celanese spokesman Travis Jacobsen wrote in an email to the newspaper.

Lisa Nielsen, who supports the lawsuit, said the agencies used too broad of a geographic area to pinpoint the cancer cases. She said she can drive through the neighborhood where she grew up and point out dozens of homes where old friends and their family members have died from cancer.

`”Every time I came to visit my mom and dad, it was, ‘Oh guess who’s sick, guess who has cancer, guess who’s dying,’” Nielsen said.

The neighborhood is now on city water, but the chemicals were used for decades before the switch, Nielsen said.

“I think because there has been such a stink made about this, they monitor it a little more closely, but my answer to that is too little, too late,” she said.

 

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