Precision Castparts Corp.
Resendez, et al. v. Precision Castparts Corp. and PCC Structurals, Inc.
Case No. 16CV16164
Multnomah County Circuit Court, State of Oregon
On July 8, 2016 Keller Rohrback L.L.P. and the Law Office of Karl G. Anuta, P.C. filed a class action lawsuit against Precision Castparts Corp. and PCC Structurals, Inc. (collectively “PCC”) on behalf of residents and businesses in Portland affected by high levels of toxic materials allegedly emitted from PCC facilities in the Portland Metro area. On September 9, 2016, the court consolidated the case with another class action against PCC filed by the law firms Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC and Smith & Lowney, PLLC, and on October 14, 2016, the firms together filed a Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint.
The lawsuit alleges that “[t]oxic metals and other pollutants released from [PCC’s] Facility have contaminated peoples’ yards, gardens, homes, and business, damaging property and diminishing property values, and posing significant health risks.” It further alleges that PCC “emits thousands of pounds of nickel, arsenic, chromium, and other toxic materials and heavy metals into the air each year.”
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, including an order requiring PCC to cease the emission of air pollutants at levels that interfere with any reasonable use of the surrounding properties and neighborhood, as well as damages, like the cost of testing to determine the presence of nickel, arsenic, and other toxins, on behalf of the plaintiffs and a proposed class. It also asks the court to certify a class consisting of “[a]ll persons who (a) currently own property in the Affected Area or (b) currently reside in the Affected Area.
The “Affected Area” is defined by any of the colored areas in the map below, which is based on maps The Oregonian prepared using data from the U.S. Forest Service.
“It’s unconscionable that these companies apparently put Portlanders at unnecessary risk, and that regulators have not done enough to protect the public,” said Daniel Mensher, an attorney at Keller Rohrback and former Clinical Professor and Staff Attorney at Earthrise Law Center, the environmental law clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland.
In February, researchers at the U.S. Forest Service released data showing high levels of nickel, cadmium, arsenic, and other metals in the air around PCC’s Johnson Creek Facility. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) has concluded that PCC is the source of the nickel hotspot in this neighborhood, which has the highest concentrations in the Portland Metro area.
Additionally, DEQ has found a significant plume of chlorinated solvents in the groundwater under PCC’s Johnson Creek Facility. This groundwater supplies water to the City of Milwaukie, which has drinking water supply wells within a mile of the PCC Johnson Creek Facility. DEQ and the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (“BES”) have also found polychlorinated biphenyl (“PCBs”) and other pollutants in pipes that discharge water into Johnson Creek from the PCC Johnson Creek Facility.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to nickel dust can cause a range of serious health risks, including cancer and reduced lung and organ function. Additionally, the Oregon Health Authority has concluded that persistent exposure to high concentrations of arsenic can cause skin, lung, or bladder cancer, and the health effects for cadmium exposure include lung cancer and kidney damage.
PCC’s own monitoring data show that they are a significant source of air and water pollution in the community. In fact, a team at the University of Massachusetts has ranked the company one of the top 20 most toxic air polluters in the country.
Complaint – 07/08/2016
Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint – 10/14/2016
Second Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint – 06/30/2017
Third Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint – 07/31/2017
Articles and radio stories:
PCC ranks as one of the nation’s top polluters – 08/26/2013
Meet Precision Castparts’ Worried Neighbors – 04/15/2016
Neighbors file suits against Precision Castparts – 07/13/2016
Maps showing U.S. Forest Service research:
Letter from PCC to Neighbors – 04/12/2016