Remember the Hoechst-Celanese plant in Upstate, S.C.? Of course not … it’s been a long time since it’s been on the public radar.
The scandal surrounding this facility first broke open in December 2010, when WSPA TV 7 (Spartanburg, SC) did a three-part series entitled “Shadow of Sickness.” That series documented the extensive environmental pollution that was allegedly caused by the facility – which was operated by the company from 1967 to 1998 near Cowpens, S.C.
As many as three dozen people may have died as a result of pollution associated with the plant – most of them succumbing to various forms of cancer. Not only that, the contamination may have caused lasting environmental damage to the area – as well as communities located downstream from the location of the plant.
In August 2011, officials at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) – then under the command of former commissioner Earl Hunter – publicly acknowledged that they knew hazardous waste was being released from the former Hoechst chemical facility in Spartanburg County. Yet they did nothing about it.
In fact, the agency apparently knew about the pollution for over a decade – and never warned anyone.
Now local residents want to make those responsible for the pollution pay …
Here’s the takeaway from a class action lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Spartanburg, S.C. against Hoechst Celanese Corporation …
For over 40 years, numerous corporate entities have polluted the groundwater of the Cannon’s Campground community and the surface water of the nearby Pacolet River and its tributary creeks by improperly handling and disposing hazardous chemicals that were either components or by-products of the polyester manufacturing process conducted at what is commonly referred to as the “Hoechst-Celanese” manufacturing plant and its neighboring facilities The extent of the pollution poses an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health of the members of the community and to the environment itself and was carried out—and is still being carried out—by the owners of the plant in violation of federal and South Carolina law.
The lawsuit seeks an order enjoining the plant from “continuing activities contributing to the contamination of the groundwater and surface water” and an order compelling Hoechst “to develop and implement an adequate delineation and remediation plan.”
It also asks for compensatory and consequential damages – as well as punitive damages – to be paid to residents who have joined the lawsuit.