A Terre Haute, US resident has filed a lawsuit against Pfizer alleging that the company “negligently or recklessly” maintained its dam, resulting in the release of PCB.
Flooding of the Vigo County area resulted in the release of water and sediment containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from Pfizer’s containment pond, which the resident claims has made her property uninhabitable.
The lawsuit alleges that laboratory tests have confirmed that the plaintiff’s house is contaminated with PCB. Pfizer has cooperated with state and federal government on an investigation into the release of PCB, which included the sampling of PCB levels in residential areas that may be affected by the chemicals release.
Using one sampling ID Pfizer found PCB soil/sediment levels of 0.016 mg/kg in the area containing the plaintiff’s house but the other three tests revealed non-detectable levels of the chemical. Owing to the size of the area covered by the sample it can not be ascertained from data released by Pfizer whether the plaintiff’s house is contaminated.
The release of PCBs occurred in June during the worst flooding in 95 years to occur in Vigo County, which caused the water in Pfizer’s three acre containment pond to breach its levee.
Pfizer acknowledges that this resulted in some sediment containing PCBs being washed downstream. It is not known how the containment pond came to be contaminated with PCB but Pfizer has said it was in the process of remediating the problem when the flood occurred.
Immediately after the dam was breached Pfizer claims it began attempting to divert the water into a bypass channel and had completed its repairs within 24 hours. These actions meant that 70 per cent of the sediment was contained in the pond, according to Pfizer.
Since then Pfizer has been working with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take sediment samples and formulate a clear-up strategy.
The plaintiff alleges that Pfizer knew that the water contained PCBs, “that the dam was in disrepair” and were “substantially certain” that the chemicals release would harm the plaintiff and her property.