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Don't Drink the Water - TN Garbage Dump Pollution Headed to Court

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 By Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Contact
July 10, 2007


It’s time to sort through the trash. A lawsuit is in the works after years of documentation that toxic pollution is seeping from the Dickson County Landfill into water supplies and the soil. Unsafe levels of an industrial de-greaser called TCE (trichloroethlyne) are linked to nervous system, kidney, heart and liver problems. And locals think it explains high rates of cleft palates and cancers. Aaron Colangelo with the Natural Resources Defense Council says foot-dragging is endangering public health.

“Even now, knowing that the contamination is widespread and growing, there's no effort to contain it, find out where it is, and clean it up.”

No one disputes the pollution-landfill connection, and most families that had been using contaminated wells have been switched to a municipal system, but Colangelo notes soil and vapors still pose a risk. The suit calls for scientific surveys of the extent of pollution and a clean up plan.

Colangelo believes this level of contamination would have received top attention years ago in other parts of the state.

“Many of the people affected are black and are lower income, and they haven't had as much political influence as they have deserved.”

Colangelo adds that switching people to safer water systems isn't enough to guarantee safety.

“TCE is in the soil, and people are exposed that way. And TCE vapors can come up, so people may have vapors in their basement.”

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