Drinking Water Contamination and Camp Lejeune

While the US Marine Corps publicly stated that it closed its drinking wells once it discovered the wells were contaminated with toxic chemicals, its internal documents show otherwise. Now, Marines and other residents of the famous Marine base are discovering that they’ve contracted cancer. 146,000 people have signed up to a Marine health registry designed to locate and document those who’ve fallen ill after living at Camp Lejeune. It’s estimated that between 400,000 and 1 million people may have been exposed to the toxic drinking water during a 30 year period from 1957 to 1987.
While Marine officials began receiving warnings from chemists about the toxic water in 1980, nothing was done about the problem for 4 years. Environmental regulators received reports from the Marine base but any mention of the toxic water problem was not included in those reports. Perhaps, more disturbing, Marine officials failed to notify regulators of a chemical spill that was leaking fuel at a rate of 1,500 gallons per month. The fuel and other toxic chemicals seeped into the groundwater and contaminated the camp’s drinking water.
The environmental problem at the camp was so bad that the location was designated as a Superfund site in 1989. Thousands of state and federal documents concerning the problem reveal a multiplicity of sources of contamination including the dumping of oil, industrial waste water, as well industrial waste from a nearby dry cleaning business.
Besides the document issue, Marine officials at the camp have continued to deny any responsibility for the contaminated drinking water in spite of clear federal regulations to the contrary.
Now, some of those who lived at the base are fighting back. One former Marine from Wisconsin who lived at Camp Lejeune received a 30% disability from the Marine Corps due to illnesses contracted because of the toxic water contamination. It seems certain that more will follow suit as news of the groundwater contamination at Camp Lejeune is publicized and the former residents respond.

Groundwater Contamination Case Leads to Penalty for Exxon-Mobil

A New York jury has found Exxon-Mobil Corporation liable for contaminating the groundwater by using a gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). Exxon will have to pay the city $104,700.
In its lawsuit against Exxon-Mobil, the city of New York alleged that the oil company had ignored its own scientists when they warned the company not to use MTBE in areas where the groundwater also serves as drinking water. The groundwater contamination case involved six wells in Queens that provide the city with drinking water. MTBE has been banned by 20 states, including New York.
Reacting to the jury award the mayor of New York warned other polluters, “Our water supply is one of our most vital resources–and we will work to protect it and go after those who damage it,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

Sex Abuse Lawsuits on Hold in Delaware

On the eve of a sex abuse trial, the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court in Wilmington Delaware. The Diocese of Wilmington is the seventh diocese in the United States and first on the east coast to file for bankruptcy protection. The Diocese faces liability for sexual abuse claims filed in Delaware courts after passage of the state’s 2007 Child Vicitms Act allowing survivors of child sexual abuse, who had been barred from filing suit against their abusers under the statute of limitations, to bring civil cases in Delaware Superior Court during a two-year window that expired in July. More than 175 cases involving at least 190 plaintiffs have been filed with Superior Court, according to court documents.
In announcing the bankruptcy filing, Wilmington Bishop Francis Malooly stated, “after careful consideration and after consultation with my close advisers and counselors, I believe we have no other choice, and that filing for Chapter 11 offers the best opportunity, given finite resources, to provide the fairest possible treatment of all victims of sexual abuse by priests of our Diocese.”
The founder of the advocacy group Survivors of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Barbara Blaine characterized the bankruptcy filing in another fashion. “The bottom line is that the bishop doesn’t want the truth to be exposed,” Blaine said.
The sex abuse trial that had been scheduled to begin Monday involved former Catholic priest Francis DeLuca who had worked in the Diocese of Wilmington for more than 35 years and is now the target of multiple lawsuits for sexually abusing minors.

Chinese Drywall Homeowners Dropped by Insurance Carriers

Chinese drywall has now affected more than just the buildings built with the contaminated material. Two insurance companies, Citizens and Universal North America, have dropped property insurance coverage for some homes affected by the Chinese drywall. In some instances, homeowners have been told that they have six months to fix the Chinese drywall problem or their property insurance won’t be renewed. This poses a difficulty for the homeowner since no remediation plan has been formulated in spite of the fact that some builders have already started remediation efforts.
While homeowners suffer, the Consumer Products Safety Commission is investigating the problem which is estimated to affect at least 100,000 homes in the US.

Paxil Lawsuit Ends with Jury Verdict of $2.5 Million

The first Paxil lawsuit has finally gone to trial and the jury has awarded a suburban Philadelphia family $2.5 million. GlaxoSmithKline has been ordered to pay the monetary damages for birth defects suffered by a young child whose mother took the anti-depressant drug. The jury awarded the family double the amount they sought because they found that GlaxoSmithKline failed to warn doctors of the potentially serious birth defects associated with Paxil.
Paxil belongs to a family of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and GlaxoSmithKline was warned about the drug’s link to serious birth defects in 2005. Yet, the company chose to minimize the association and decided to downplay the risks when discussing the drug with doctors.
As in many of our lawsuits, the company’s own internal documents provided the damning evidence of misbehavior and mischaracterization of the drug’s real dangers.
While GlaxoSmithKline says it will appeal the jury verdict, it faces 600 similar Paxil birth defect lawsuits.

Spine Devices to Get Post Market Safety Review

The FDA has called for a post-market safety review of certain dynamic-stabilization devices used in spine surgeries. The review concerns questions about their safety and their effectiveness in the device’s fusion rate compared to more traditional procedures. The study will try to determine the rate at which these dynamic-stabilization devices fail to fuse, break, or loosen over time. Problems with the medical devices could require further surgery and spinal complications for the patient. The devices in question are manufactured by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Zimmer Holdings Inc.
The newer spine stabilization systems which were first introduced 12 years ago provide some flexibility while the older systems are more rigid. The FDA, in calling for the post market safety review, wants to determine the safety records of such devices now that they are being used by healthcare professionals. Of course, this process would be much easier if the FDA had some sort of medical device registry in place. However, Congress is working on such legislation in collaboration with the federal agency.

Drug Safety List Released

The FDA has released a list of drugs that are being monitored by the federal agency for possible safety issues. The list is compiled from the Adverse Event Reporting System and names those drugs who made the adverse event list after a safety issue was raised with the particular drug. The list is published quarterly and includes drugs such as:
Ceftriaxone (Rocephin) – Hemolytic anemia was added to the Warnings section of labeling in June 2009
Diclofenac epolamine patch (Flector) – Hypersensitivity reactions
Didanosine (Videx) – Portal hypertension
Entacapone (Comtan) – Colitis
Gadolinium-based contrast agents – Anaphylaxis
Alpha interferon products – Pulmonary Hypertension
Mecasermin products (Increlex, Iplex) – Hypersensitivity reactions
Methylnaltrexone (Relistor) – Gastrointestinal perforation
Minocycline (Solodyn) – Autoimmune disorders in pediatric patients
Promethazine injection – In September 2009 FDA informed manufacturers of promethazine injection to include a Boxed Warning in the labeling to highlight the risk of serious tissue injury when this drug is administered incorrectly.
Sunitinib (Sutent) – Liver failure
Tenofovir (Viread) – Safety during pregnancy
Zoledronic acid (Reclast) – Renal impairment was added to the Warnings and Precautions section of labeling in March 2009.
Other than making the list and being monitored by the FDA, no further information is provided. The FDA is careful to point out that a drug’s listing does not necessarily mean there are safety issues with the drug or that doctors should not prescribe the drug.

Bay Pines Environmental Contamination

Bay Pines Florida residents are the second group of Tampa Bay residents hit with bad news concerning a toxic plume of environmental contamination in their neighborhood. Just last year, the residents of the Azalea neighborhood learned that the Raytheon plant in the area had been leaking hazardous chemicals into their groundwater. As in the Raytheon case, Bay Pines residents only found out two weeks ago that a toxic mix of dangerous chemicals such as 1,4-dioxane, TCE and vinyl chloride and metals such as arsenic, cadmium and lead were forming a migratory plume in their neighborhood.
State and federal environmental officials have known for many years about the problem but inexplicably chose not to inform residents of the potential dangers.

Bay Pines An Accident Waiting to Happen

Those are the words of private environmental investigator Becky Sharp when she called the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department on February 3, 1992 concerning the environmental contamination located at an industrial park in Bay Pines. When she inspected the industrial plant at the former APF Industries, she found open acid containers and other chemicals that were so powerful they disintegrated concrete. She feared they would catch fire or explode. Yet, 17 years later, local residents are only now discovering the environmental hazard that surrounds their neighborhood. According to a WFLA report filed by Mark Douglas, “Some chemicals are found in concentrations as much as 1,400 times the level at which the state targets an area for cleanup.”
The EPA deemed the site hazardous noting in its records, “the release or threat of release of hazardous substances at the site may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or welfare or the environment.”
Earlier this year, Senator Charlie Justice proposed legislation that would make it mandatory for residents to be notified of such a toxic health hazard in their neighborhood. The bill failed and received no support from the Environmental Protection Agency. Justice, undeterred by last year’s failure, has re-submitted another bill for consideration in this year’s legislative sesssion.
As in the Raytheon toxic plume in the nearby Azalea neighborhood, residents weren’t notified about the danger. Now officials from the Pinellas County Health Department want to inspect some of the wells in the area but not in the area where the plume is thought to be migrating-south and east toward Harbor Lights.

Bay Pines Contamination Site a Health Hazard

While Bay Pines residents found out about the environmental hazard in their neighborhood, state environmental agencies have known for 13 years that the area was environmentally contaminated and posed a significant risk to area residents. According to a TBO story, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection sent a letter to the owner of the industrial site 11 years ago, calling it “an extremely hazardous environmental situation”.
Two weeks ago, workers from the Pinellas County Health Department began placing door hangers on the homes of residents just west of the former APF Industries plant located at 4800 95th St. North. The Health Department also referred 15 wells the Department of Environmental Protection for testing.
The Bay Pines environmental contamination news comes a little over a year after we filed a class action lawsuit against Raytheon Corporation for a toxic plume in the Azalea neighborhood in St. Petersburg. Like the Raytheon matter, residents weren’t notified even though state Department of Environmental Protection and other state and federal agencies knew about the toxic environment.
Bay Pines Pollution Lawsuit Information