March 24, 2009

City Residents Sue Companies for Contamination

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After years of frustration, residents concerned about toxic pollution in the South Hill area have filed a class action lawsuit against Emerson Power Transmission, Emerson Electric Co., Burns International Services Corp and BorgWarner Inc.
Formerly inhabited by Morse Chain Factory, the area under questions was shown to have high levels of trichloroethylene contamination, 1.1 million parts per billion, according to a 1989 test, The Ithacan reported. A 2006 report found measurable levels of TCE in South Hill area and suggested that future testing should be pursued to determine changes in ground water levels and seasonal changes affecting TCE vapor intrusion into South Hill basements.
TCE, which has been a problem plaguing Ithaca for more than 20 years, can have damaging effects to liver and lung functions, as well as nervous system effects, according to The Ithacan.
The class actions suit was filed on Sept. 24, and is being presided over by Chief Judge Norman A. Mordue, according to U.S. District Court records.
Although the defendants claimed in a counter-suit that they were unaware of the contamination problem and were following standard industry procedures, they filed a cross claim that attributes a portion of the blame to NCR Corp., an international technology corporation, if found guilty.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has taken over the mitigation and investigation into TCE in South Hill.