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Something Leaking From TN Landfill Seeps into Court

March 6, 2008

Dickson County, TN – Leaky trash is landing in court in Tennessee. A lawsuit has been filed to try to make Dickson County and the City of Dickson get a handle on a toxic industrial chemical seeping from the Dickson landfill.

Trichloroethylene, called TCE, has been found in groundwater, wells and springs up to three miles from the landfill, and levels in drinking water sources are above federal safety limits. The substance has been linked to neurological problems and cancer.

Aaron Colangelo, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, is working on the case on behalf of residents affected, and says the presence of TCE is no secret.

"Everybody knows it's there, but they don't know exactly where. And they know that it's in people's drinking water, but they don't know exactly how many people's."

No one disputes the connection between the landfill and the pollution. The lawsuit asks for testing and cleanup.

Most families affected have been switched to a different water system, and no health problems have yet been documented related to the chemical.

Colangelo says the pollution problem was first detected 20 years ago, and cleanup has been delayed and debated for too long, with the pollution "puddle" growing to more than three square miles.

"The first step, really, is to get a full sense and an accurate picture of exactly where the contamination is, and then after that, a complete cleanup."

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - TN