City of Michigan Sued Over Asbestos Exposure

One former employee and eight current employees of East Lansing, Michigan’s wastewater treatment plant filed a lawsuit against the city last month for asbestos and mercury exposure that reportedly occurred while working.

According to court documents, the workers were exposed to asbestos and mercury on a daily basis at the City of East Lansing Wastewater Treatment Plant, located at 1700 Trowbridge Rd. The lawsuit also states that East Lansing city officials postponed noticing workers of the risk of potential exposure and withheld information even though they knew of the dangers employees faced.

“They want to make sure East Lansing doesn’t do the same things over and over, they want money damages, they want better employee training and they want people to know what happened in the city in regard to the exposure to workers of asbestos and mercury,” said the employees’ attorney.

In 2007, the wastewater treatment plant underwent an inspection that revealed asbestos was indeed present, yet officials willingly and recklessly withheld the information from employees.

In fact, the report shows that there were numerous areas of the plant contained asbestos, including friable asbestos, meaning asbestos fibers are can more easily break apart and become airborne. In addition, city officials failed to take recommendations provided by the inspection company, which would have greatly reduced the risks of asbestos exposure.

Although officials confirmed that eight of the nine plaintiffs still worked at the wastewater treatment plant, the name of the former employee was withheld.

More AccusationsFacing East Lansing Wastewater Treatment Plant

Numerous other allegations were named in the lawsuit, including:

  • City officials acted in an improper manner when over a pound of mercury was spilled at the plant in Nov. 2013. Employees were never notified.
  •  In Dec. 2011, One plaintiff claims that a supervisor told him and a co-worker to keep quiet regarding asbestos at the plant or they’ll lose their jobs.
  • Another plaintiff was also told to keep quiet about asbestos at the plant in Oct. 2012. The plaintiff left his job at the plant and was given $26,450 if he agreed to resign and not file a lawsuit against the city.
  • In March 2008, the city agreed to develop an emergency plan to ensure that workers were as safe as possible from asbestos and mercury exposure, yet the plan was never carried out.
  • In Feb. 1996, the city agreed to develop a recommendation plan for worker safety, yet the plans were never implemented.
  • In Feb. 1996, a mercury spill occurred, but no abatement or clean-up project was carried out.
  • In Jan. 2014, an abatement project revealed an eight linear foot pipe and insulation that contained large amounts of asbestos.
  • Many of the employees worked in a maintenance shop at the wastewater treatment regularly. Airborne asbestos littered the maintenance room.
  • Employees were never provided any safety clothing or gear during any time while working.

Although one of the numerous mercury spills occurred on Nov. 13, 2014, records indicate that it wasn’t reported until March 2014, and only after a group of employees requested a meeting with city officials. In fact, regardless of the many mercury spills that occurred at the wastewater treatment plant, little to no attempts were made to keep the employees safe from exposure.

Asbestos and Mercury Health Threats

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral, when its tiny, odorless fibers are ingested, it can cause life-threatening illnesses, including asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis, and malignant mesothelioma. Since asbestos fibers are undetectable by the human eye, people have no idea when or if ingestion/inhalation of the fibers has occurred.

Mercury exposure also also been linked to a string of dangerous health conditions, especially via airborne exposure. Health problems include kidney problems, respiratory problems, and even death.

If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos or mercury, it’s important to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Symptoms may not surface immediately, so even if you do not think you’ve been injured, it is recommended contact your healthcare provider regardless.

Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been injured by asbestos, there is a good chance you’ll qualify for substantial compensation.With more than $30 billion available right now in asbestos trust funds, it’s important to take the first steps in determining what you may qualify for. Get in touch with our leading mesothelioma lawyers today for a free legal consultation.

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