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Pollution Continued for Decades with Governments' Knowledge, Plaintiff Claims
Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) today announced that they intend to sue the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Beazer East, Inc., for their total failure to protect the citizens of the Petrolia area and Fairview Township and Borough, Butler County from potentially harmful pollution to their drinking water caused by abandoned solid waste dumps in their community. This pollution resulted from waste dumped in the 1950s and 1960s from Beazer's (formerly Koppers Company) manufacturing plant and contained hazardous substances that spilled out or leached into the drinking water wells of local citizens.
"The government -- particularly the Pennsylvania DEP -- has absolutely failed the citizens of Butler County, and DEP's policy of not enforcing the law continues to put the health of all Pennsylvanians at risk," said George Jugovic, Senior Attorney for PennFuture. "Governor Schweiker and DEP Secretary Hess have repeatedly expressed their `concern about private, residential water-well owners.' Now it's time for the government to stop talking and start acting."
"This has been going on for decades while the children, elderly and other adults in Fairview have unknowingly been allowed to drink water polluted with substances that EPA now views as hazardous," Jugovic continued. "Well water, streams, springs and an entire town's groundwater have been polluted with these chemicals. DEP's own scientists have documented damage to aquatic life and drinking water. Yet even today, the government refuses to order the company to stop the pollution and clean up the damage."
PennFuture took today's action on behalf of its own members and the members of Small Towns Opposed to Polluted Sites (STOPS). STOPS was formed in January 2000 when local citizens discovered that their drinking water had been polluted by the abandoned solid waste dumps near their residences. Since then, the citizens have repeatedly asked the company and the agencies responsible to take action to stop the pollution and clean up the damage. The notice of intent to sue gives the company and the agencies 60 days to agree to resolve the problem or face legal action for violation of the Clean Water Act, the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law and the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act.
PennFuture, which has offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state's environment and economy. PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education and assisting citizens in public advocacy.