Residents of an Ottawa County, Oklahoma, neighborhood have filed a lawsuit against Michelin and its parent company, BF Goodrich, for “knowingly” contaminating the soil and groundwater with benzene and naphtha.
The 112 former and current residents, six of whom are children, allege Michelin and BF Goodrich intentionally didn’t notify appropriate authorities for the disposal of the hazardous chemicals, according to the Miami News-Record.
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), which includes a legal requirement for industries to report the storage, use and releases of hazardous substances at federal, state, and local government levels, is working in the plaintiffs’ favor.
“Defendants’ violations of the reporting requirements of EPCRA have been numerous and repeated,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also accuses the companies of knowing about the contamination, and doing nothing.
“Goodrich had knowledge that its underground chemical feedline system was leaking hazardous waste,” the suit claims, “yet failed to take any actions to correct or property report the continuous leaking of hazardous wastes into the soil and groundwater adjacent to and immediately north of the Miami Heights housing subdivision.”
The chemicals often used in the process of making tires are benzene and naphtha, which are extremely hazardous to human health.
Benzene is a key ingredient in gasoline and is used in a wide variety of chemicals and products. Exposure to benzene has been linked to life-threatening diseases such as Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and anemia.
Naphtha is also believed to be a carcinogen, and is also an airway irritant.
The lawsuit claims the companies stored both chemicals in storage tanks buried underground, as well as in rooftop tanks, silos, and 55-gallon drums at the facility. It was also discovered that 1.5 million gallons of oil were being held in storage tanks above ground at the facility. The company also allegedly dumped hazardous chemicals throughout the property of their plant.
The plaintiffs are seeking between $25,000 and $75,000 for each day the required safety plan was not implemented.