Lawsuit claims an entire community could be contaminated by uranium plant
METROPOLIS, IL — A class action lawsuit takes aim at a plant that’s provided jobs to our area for decades. Honeywell International Inc. is reviewing the complaint, and a spokesperson says the company plans to defend itself.
Environmental attorney Kevin Thompson, along with a team of other lawyers, is taking on the Metropolis, Illinois, plant for potential contamination surrounding the production of uranium hexafluoride. It specifically states the material could have been emitted for decades.
The lawsuit cites 89 samples in a 3-mile radius of the plant, saying they contained high levels of radioactive material.
The civil suit is the first step, according to Thompson. Wednesday, the lawyers met with a room full of concerned people at the community center to discuss their plan. Next, they’ll file a formal notice with Honeywell, the Department of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Then, the government has been given 60 days respond. Thompson says their demands will expand to medical monitoring on the 61st day. In their next step, they’ll also ask a federal judge to order the site be altered to limit uranium emissions. Although the plant is technically idling, Thompson says he learned at a recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting, plant officials plan to reopen in two years.
The current class action lawsuit, which includes six people who all live less than a mile from the plant, asks for the contaminated property to be remedied and compensation for damages. If the class is awarded compensation, anyone who fits the same proximity to the plant could receive the same benefit.
Thompson tells us up to 7,000 people could be impacted. He says this could be his biggest case of possible environmental neglect. It’s why he held the Wednesday night meeting to expand their inquiry into cancer rates and the plant. “It’s about cancer. It’s about genetic damage. That’s what uranium does,” Thompson says.
“As long as I can remember…if you could get on one of those jobs when you were young, you had it made, you had a good job and benefits,” Pamela Faughn says. Her 82-year-old mother lives near the plant and recently was diagnosed with two spots of cancer. While there is no evidence at the moment linking the plant to her mother’s condition, she’s worried. “One of the oncologists at Vanderbilt saying something like ‘it’s kind of odd that you would get those two different kind of cancers all at once like this,'” she says.
Thompson says: “Somebody needs to start figuring out how many cancers of what type are affecting people of what age throughout his community.”
Thompson says the good news in the suit is: The investigation discovered Metropolis’ municipal water is safe to drink, and nearby well water is also OK.