July 14, 2017 — A lawsuit has been filed against B.F. Goodrich by residents of a town in Oklahoma who say the tire company failed to warn them about benzene leaks in the groundwater.
The lawsuit was filed in on June 13 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma against Michelin North America Inc., the company that purchased B.F. Goodrich Company in 1990.
The plaintiffs include 106 adults and 6 children who live or lived in the Miami Heights neighborhood across from the old Goodrich tire factory in Miami, Oklahoma.
According to a report by the Miami News-Record, lawyers for the residents allege in the lawsuit:
“Goodrich had knowledge that its underground chemical feedline system was leaking hazardous waste yet failed to take any actions to correct or properly report the continuous leaking of hazardous wastes into the soil and groundwater adjacent to and immediately north of the Miami Heights housing subdivision.”
Goodrich operated the factory from the post World War II-boom in the 1940s until announcing its closure in 1985, resulting in the loss of 1,900 jobs and devastating the economy in the small town of Miami.
The town is left with an ongoing pollution cleanup effort by Michelin. Studies show that a plume of the toxic chemical benzene runs about 14 to 24 feet below the property and leaks into the groundwater.
Goodrich used benzene to manufacture rubber and tires, dumping the chemical throughout the plant into the ground until it closed in 1986.
The lawsuit also states that benzene and other toxic chemicals were stored in underground storage tanks, rooftop tanks, roof silos, and 55-gallon drums. Around 1.5 million gallons of fuel were stored in tanks.
The plaintiffs are seeking up to $75,000 per day for each day that Goodrich failed to file emergency safety plans and hazardous chemical inventories with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the Local Emergency Planning Commission.
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