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Lawsuit: Pollution from metal processing plants in Union caused woman's cancer

Lawsuit: Improperly disposed of chemicals caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

A woman who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after living near metal processing plants in Union has filed a lawsuit against several chemical companies, alleging the plant owners knowingly polluted the surrounding communities with cancer-causing chemicals for decades.

Dana Harper, 44, lived across the street from wire and alloy manufacturing plants for almost three decades, from 1974 to 1994 and again from 1996 to 2002, according to the lawsuit.

During that time, a plant managed by Central Wire Inc./Techalloy Company Inc., and another factory managed by Phibro-Tech and Southern California Chemical Company, were allegedly emitting, and improperly disposing of, a blend of volatile organic compounds including the established carcinogens trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and ammonia into the surrounding air, soil and water, according to the lawsuit.

These plants were located near Evergreen Academy, a magnet school for sixth to 12th grade students.

TCE is used for a number of industrial tasks, such as degreasing metal parts, but has been shown to have such dangerous effects that the Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed a ban on the use of the chemical as a degreaser, as well as in industrial drycleaning facilities.

Harper was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer, in 2017.

“The toxic nature of these chemicals is no secret to anyone. To release them into the world is to cause someone’s death sentence,” said Antonio Romanucci of Romanucci & Blandin LLC, one of the attorneys representing Harper. “These companies need to be held responsible for their actions.”

Several companies are named as defendants in the lawsuit including Phibro-Tech, Southern California Chemical Company Inc., Central Wire Inc., and Techalloy Company Inc., who collectively ran two factories which did metal production work at 17415 Jefferson St. and 6509 Olson Road in Union, both down the street from the residence where Harper lived, according to the law firm. Central Wire currently operates the Olson Road plant, according to the lawsuit.

All of the companies named as defendants have faced scrutiny for negligent, reckless, and repeated violations of Illinois and United States Environmental Protection Agency regulations, as well as state and federal statutes, in the past, according to the lawsuit.

“Central Wire put me into the direct zone of danger through improper handling of ultra hazardous material. The company should have exercised reasonable care to protect my health and the health of my community,” Harper said “They can never give me back my health, but these dangerous actors must clean up their mess and to operate with human compassion and respect going forward.”

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