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Slowly moving lawsuit on the health impacts of a national nuclear laboratory

BNL lawsuit and the impacts of national nuclear laboratory
Brookhaven National Laboratory “continues to show almost no regard for its neighbors…Is this any way for a government-funded agency to treat its neighbors?” 
 Nation of Change, By Karl Grossman, November 20, 2020

 After nearly 25 years, a lawsuit charging that radioactive discharges from Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, New York have caused cancers and other illnesses in people in nearby communities is moving forward—still slowly.

BNL after negotiations agreed to settlements of approximately $600,000 for the first two groups of plaintiffs, each with about 18 persons. However, last month a settlement was not agreed to involving the final group of 18 plaintiffs, and New York State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Farneti ordered that a trial be scheduled.

The class action lawsuit, begun in January 1996, charges that the “actions of the defendant were grossly, recklessly and wantonly negligent and were done with an utter disregard for the health, safety, well-being and rights of the plaintiffs.”

It accuses BNL of “failure to observe accepted relevant industry standards in the use, storage and disposal of hazardous and toxic substances” and says BNL itself had been “improperly located” by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission “on top of an underground aquifer which supplies drinking water to a large number of persons.”

Lead attorneys are A. Craig Purcell of Smithtown, Long Island who is a former president of the Suffolk County Bar Association, and Richard J. Lippes, whose Buffalo, New York law firm successfully represented residents of the Love Canal neighborhood near Niagara Falls, severely polluted by the Hooker Chemical Co.

The lawsuit’s title is Osarczuk, et. al, vs. Associated Universities. Barbara Osarczuk had lived in North Shirley, just outside the BNL boundaries, for 28 years and attributed her thyroid and breast cancer to BNL.

Purcell complains that that BNL “delayed” movement of the lawsuit through the decades. “They appealed everything.”      ………

A book on radioactive pollution from BNL causing health impacts to residents of Shirley was published in 2008. Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town was authored by Kelly McMasters of Hofstra University, who grew up in Shirley. The book was the basis of the 2012 TV documentary Atomic States of America.

As Professor McMasters has related in an interview: “I do believe there was a watershed moment in 1960, after the first radioactive leaks occurred, that the federal government or the scientists themselves should have realized that Shirley was the fastest growing town in the county, with a population that doubled within ten years, and that the middle of one of the largest sole-source drinking water aquifers in the country was not the best place for a nuclear laboratory.”

Purcell declares that the lawsuit, “now, nearly 25 years later…has still not been resolved despite Judge Farneti’s urging that the interests of justice would be better served by a fair and final resolution.” BNL and its lawyers “continue to nickel and dime their neighbors to this very day.” He charges that BNL “continues to show almost no regard for its neighbors…Is this any way for a government-funded agency to treat its neighbors?”

November 23, 2020 - Posted by | health, Legal, USA

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