80 new people join Halliburton water contamination case as others are set for trial

by Christian Betancourt, originally posted on April 16, 2016


About 80 more Duncanites joined a class action lawsuit claiming Halliburton contaminated water in North Duncan by dumping jet fuel waste into a Duncan pond starting in 1976.

Court documents filed April 12 show Duncan law firm Leach & Sullivan working in conjunction with New York City law firm Weitz & Luxenberg filed an amendment to their original complaint adding about 80 new plaintiffs.

Documents filed April 7 show a trial date for six cases as Aug. 9, 2016.

“The court finds there will be one trial in August with two plaintiffs who have bodily injury claims, two plaintiffs who have property damage claims and two plaintiffs who have emotional distress claims,” stated the documents. “The court also finds that picking two plaintiffs for each type of claim minimizes the chance that a settlement prior to trial would result in a certain type of claim not being represented at the trial.”

David Page, an attorney with Leach & Sullivan, said during a March interview most of the existing claims reached a resolution. The new claims have the opportunity to receive settlements quicker.

Court documents state 65 of the 66 plaintiffs representing 44 of the 45 properties and represented by Leach & Sullivan have agreed, signed the necessary paperwork and finalized settlement. Fifty out of the 57 plaintiffs representing 44 of the 45 properties represented by Weitz & Luxenberg have done the same.

In 2011, water quality tests showed the presence of ammonium perchlorate – a toxic salt mineral known to be used in fireworks and explosives and as missile fuel –  in the north section of Duncan where an old Halliburton location was used as a place to conduct removal of spent missile fuel, court documents stated.

The process released the ammonium perchlorate compound into the groundwater and into private water wells.

According to the United State Environmental Protection Agency, perchlorate is highly soluble and “high doses of perchlorate can result in the decrease of body weight” and “cause hypertrophy of the thyroid gland.”

The EPA has also taken up monitoring perchlorate levels under the Safe Drinking Water Act and “has initiated the process of proposing a national primary drinking water regulation.”

Bill Romanelli, writing on behalf of the Perchlorate Information Bureau (PIB), which is supported by Aerojet Rocketdyne, American Pacific Corp., Lockheed Martin and Orbital ATK said his organization claims perchlorates are not toxic

“In more than 60 years of scientific research, dating back to perchlorate’s use as a medicine, perchlorate has not been shown to be toxic in humans,” he stated in an email. “Though adverse effects from perchlorate exposure have been theorized, they have never been shown. The only known effect of perchlorate is iodine uptake inhibition, which is not considered an adverse health effect.”

An expert opinion map prepared by Earth Forensics and obtained by public records shows the contaminated area extends from Camelback to Gatlin Road and Highway 81 and Ponderosa Road.

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