Friday, November 18, 2011

Hexavalent Chromium Contamination Digs Into City Coffers

By: Duane Craig

2,200 residents exposed to hexavalent contamination

Corporations sometimes acquire strange bedfellows and for Merck & Co., a pharmaceutical maker, its ownership of a company that pressure treated lumber for building the frames of cooling towers couldn't be stranger. Now, as the company leads the remediation efforts to clean up hexavalent contamination in the Beachwood Subdivision of Merced, California, the City of Merced itself will be paying out $1.5 million to more than 2,200 residents who were exposed to the chemical for more than 25 years, according to this report in the Merced Sun-Star online.

Why is the city paying?

It seems its insurance carriers decided to back out of covering them in the earlier stage of this case back in April. So, since the city was also named in the suit it decided to settle out of court and forego attorney and expert costs of $1 million a year. The city is using sewer funds and reimbursements from insurance carriers to cover the bill.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek the first of three trial phases focused on whether contamination leaked from the plant and the second phase was set to determine if the residents were harmed by the contamination. The plaintiffs argued the companies involved did not try to notify residents even when they knew there was contamination released. Merck admitted knowing, but countered the contamination could not have affected the residents. Hmmmm, maybe land and water contamination is acceptable as long as it doesn't affect people?
I won't bore you with the multiple, identical reports on this one. Here is one and another that report something different from the stampede of identical reports. Here's one about the earlier trial.

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