Volume 39, Issue 2, February  2004


Pilkington North America Could 
Face Arsenic Contamination Lawsuit


Pilkington North America, based in Toledo, Ohio, may be facing a suit from more than 250 families in Naplate, Ill., that are alleging the company knew it was responsible for arsenic contamination, according to an article from PJStar.com (the Peoria [Ill.] Journal Star newspaper’s website). The article said the company used arsenic in glass manufacturing from the early 1900s to 1970. A federal judge in Chicago has allowed the class-action certification in the lawsuit, which was filed last February in U.S. District Court by two families on behalf of Naplate residents.
The article said Shawn Collins, a Naperville, Ill., attorney, is asking the court to “order additional testing and force Pilkington North America to clean up the town and pay unspecified damages.” Accordingly, the class-action certification will allow more than 250 families to join the suit.

“This lawsuit does nothing to achieve what should be everyone’s goal: protecting the health of residents and the condition of the environment,” said Pilkington spokesperson Ken Fields in the article. “In fact, the lawsuit makes it more difficult to resolve the situations, because it continues to distract everyone involved from a complete assessment and the potential solutions.” 

Fields added that testing showed high arsenic levels in only two yards where remediation is appropriate.

The article reported that in 2001 Pilkington was ordered to complete a “comprehensive study of its site on the edge of Naplate.” The EPA concluded “there were no apparent immediate health risks to Pilkington workers or Naplate residents.”

In response to the lawsuit, Pilkington released the following statement: As a matter of policy shared by most U.S. corporations, Pilkington believes it is inappropriate to comment on any matter specifically related to an active lawsuit. We do believe, however, that the civil action that has been filed on behalf of property owners within the Village of Naplate mischaracterizes both the facts and the law. 

Our focus continues to be on those issues which are of greatest importance, completing the remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) at areas in and around our Ottawa site under the direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and taking steps to address the elevated arsenic levels found in two yards. 

Pilkington is in the process of restoring the soil at those two properties and has just completed additional soil sampling within other areas of the village. Pilkington has been working diligently to address 
this issue, without consideration as to the source or cause of the contamination ...

The lawsuit is scheduled for trial next November, according to the article. 


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