July 14, 2017 — B.F. Goodrich has been sued by residents of an Oklahoma town who say the company failed to warn them about toxic benzene chemical leaks into the groundwater.
The federal lawsuit was filed on June 13 in the Northern District of Oklahoma against B.F. Goodrich Co. and Michelin North America Inc. according to a report by the Miami News-Record.
The plaintiffs include 112 people who live or lived in the Miami Heights housing subdivision across from the tire factory. According to the lawsuit:
“Goodrich had knowledge that its underground chemical feedline system was leaking hazardous waste yet failed to take any actions to correct or properly report the continuous leaking of hazardous wastes into the soil and groundwater adjacent to and immediately north of the Miami Heights housing subdivision.”
The old Goodrich tire factory operated from the 1940s to the 1980s in Miami, Oklahoma and once employed 1,900 people. The closure of the factory in August 1985 devastated the small town’s economy.
Michelin bought B.F. Goodrich in 1990 and agreed to clean up the pollution. Goodrich used the toxic chemical benzene until the facility closed in 1986. During that time, benzene leaked into the groundwater under the facility and spread into the neighborhood south and east of the plant. The benzene plume runs 14 to 24 feet below the property.
The lawsuit states that benzene was dumped throughout the plant site. Benzene and other chemicals were stored in underground storage tanks, rooftop tanks, roof silos, and 55-gallon drums. There was also over 1.5 million gallons of fuel oil in aboveground tanks.
Plaintiffs are seeking between $25,000 and $75,000 per day for each day B.F. Goodrich did not file hazardous chemical inventories or emergency safety plans with the Local Emergency Planning Commission and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
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