PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, a class action lawsuit was filed in New Jersey Federal Court against the Fortune 500 company, Sherwin-Williams. A filing in the District Court of New Jersey alleges that Sherwin-Williams, who owned a paint manufacturing facility in the quaint New Jersey town of Gibbsboro from 1930 until 1978, contaminated the town's soil and groundwater with unsafe levels of lead, arsenic and other carcinogens. That contamination has now migrated to surrounding residences and businesses within Gibbsboro, causing a cancer cluster within the town.
Residents of the Gibbsboro community are asking the federal court to hold Sherwin-Williams accountable for the contamination that is causing residents, including children, to develop cancer and other serious medical conditions. Contaminated areas of Gibbsboro have been listed on the Environmental Protection Agency's National Priority List since 1999 and designated as Superfund sites.
The Borough of Gibbsboro is located within central Camden County, New Jersey. The Borough is approximately 2.2 miles in size and is home to approximately 2,274 residents according to the 2010 United States Census. The Borough is located about 15 miles southeast of Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Land-use in this small community is comprised of a combination of commercial, industrial, open spaces, and residential zones.
The Lawsuit alleges that as part of its operations, Sherwin-Williams utilized and generated hazardous substances, including lead, arsenic, pentachlorophenol, benzene, cadmium, and numerous other known carcinogens.
"The process by which Sherwin-Williams manufactured, stored and disposed of paint and paint by-products had the effect of releasing and omitting toxic chemicals and hazardous substances, including lead, arsenic, benzene, barium and pentachlorophenol into the grounds, air and surrounding environment. Over time these hazardous substances have migrated into surrounding corporate, business and residential properties. This contamination has existed far too long and a company of Sherwin-Williams size should have had the corporate responsibility to protect the residents and visitors of Gibbsboro," Craig Mitnick, Esq.
"Air, land and groundwater contaminated by the Defendant's activities at the Sherwin-Williams Site have migrated for years, and continue to spread to further surrounding areas, with hazardous chemical levels exceeding acceptable NJDEP and USEPA regulatory background guidelines."
The Environmental Protection Agency published the following in a 1999 Administrative Consent Order issued between Sherwin-Williams and the EPA:
"Exposure to the various hazardous substances present at the Site by direct contact, inhalation, or ingestion may cause a variety of adverse human health effects... and the conditions present at the Site constitute an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health, welfare, or the environment." (United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region II, Administrative Order on Consent for Removal Action, 1999)
Also in 1999, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) concluded that an urgent health hazard existed to children and adults who lived, worked and visited the Sherwin-Williams Site areas. Even with this fact, continued development on contaminated land took place, including constructing public walking trails, constructing commercial establishments, opening new restaurants and renovating existing residential properties.
Defendant Sherwin-Williams has contaminated both public and private property, inadequately addressed the contamination they caused, and failed to warn residents and the public of the contamination it knew existed. Sherwin-Williams ignored the health hazards, concealed those hazards from residents by not engaging the community and by not actively addressing the contamination that it caused. Sherwin-Williams failed to warn Plaintiffs and the public of the contamination it knew existed and the dangers of exposure, including cancer.