Lawsuits Filed Over Water Contamination

Lauren Savana, Centurion Staff

Two more lawsuits were filed over the past month on behalf of Montgomery and Bucks county citizens exposed to perfluorinated chemicals in their drinking water.
There are now four lawsuits in process. Each case is seeking class-action status.
Creedon & Feliciani and Levin, and Fishbein, Sedran & Berman filed the latest two lawsuits. Both cases were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.
The Intelligencer reported, “Since 2014, 22 public drinking water wells and more than 150 private wells in Bucks and Montgomery counties have been shutdown due to contamination by unregulated chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in total, affecting the drinking water of more than 100,000 people.”
Creedon & Feliciani represented 12 plaintiffs who claim to have their water contaminated with the toxic PFOA and PFOS. The 12 plaintiffs are seeking a class-action lawsuit that will represent over 70 thousand people.
“The 12 plaintiffs named include residents of Horsham, Warminster, Warrington, Ivyland and Hatboro, as well as veterans and civilians who formerly worked on the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster,” Creedon & Feliciani stated in a press release.
The chemicals are suspected to have originated in firefighting foam used for fire training, safety, and emergency purposes as far back as the early 1970s. The suit names six foam manufacturers as defendants: The 3M Co., Angus Fire, The Ansul Co., the Buckeye Fire Protection Co., Chemguard, and National Foam.
The biggest question, is why? Why would manufactures allow the use of these chemicals, and more importantly, why wouldn’t they warn the surrounding communities about environmental and physical harm?
“For years, these companies manufactured the injurious Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) for use by the U.S. Navy,” the release states, “As the manufacturers of AFFF, the defendants knew or should have known that the inclusion of PFOS and other similar chemicals in firefighting foam would present a major risk to human health and the environment, yet these companies failed to warn against this potential for harm.”
These most recent lawsuits are similar to the first suit filed in September by Weitz & Luxenberg. In a media release announcing the suit, the law firm said, “residents near the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham and former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster were exposed to PFOS and PFOA in their drinking water.”
Weitz & Luxemberg said, “alternative designs of AFFF were available, technologically feasible, and practical, and would have reduced or prevented harm to Plaintiffs.”
Even though these chemicals have been banned in the production in firefighting foam since 2002, the companies that used these chemicals in their manufacturing never admitted negative effects. The law firm said, “Neither 3M nor any other defendant that uses [the chemicals] recalled its dangerous products.”
“About 16 public wells and 150 private drinking water wells have been closed in Warminster, Horsham, and Warrington in the past two years, after the chemicals were discovered above a 70 part per trillion health advisory limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Although research into the chemicals’ health effects is still ongoing, some studies have linked the chemicals to a variety of health effects, including cancer,” wrote The Courier Times after the original lawsuit.
Hannah Bates of North Wales; Michael Bridges of Warminster; Ann Marie Kuter of Warrington; Kelley Liott of Horsham; Lynda Mills of Hatboro; Jennifer Rock of Horsham; and Carolyn Sippel of Warminster were the first seven plaintiffs to come forward and fight for their communities.
All four of the cases are seeking a medical monitoring program to screen for potential illness, including a blood-testing program.
One response in the defense of the companies is under possible prosecution. “AFFF is a product that was used by the U.S. military and departments of defense around the world because it saves lives — which likely explains why this product remains in use approximately a decade after 3M exited the sales of it. In any event, we believe these claims lack merit. 3M sold these products with instructions regarding their safe use and disposal,” said 3M attorney William A. Brewer III.
Since September, there have not been any court dates set for the Weitz & Luxenberg suit.
The Creedon & Feliciani suits have personal ties; Joseph Feliciani has lived in Horsham for 30 years. Feliciani believes that this could have implication “for our children, our grandchildren and for those that follow. This problem is going to be with us for a very long time. The time to address the problem is now.”