PLANT CITY, Fla. – Nearly 700 residents and employees who have lived near or worked for Coronet Industries have sued the troubled phosphate plant.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday by three law firms. It is the second in six months against Coronet, which is closing the 98-year-old plant this month.
The suit charges the phosphate processor was negligent in discharging pollutants that found their way into the soil, air and water surrounding Coronet.
It seeks compensation and medical monitoring for people who claim their health, lives and property have been damaged by arsenic, cadmium, lead, radium, fluoride and other contaminants in plant waste disposed of and around the Coronet site.
“Plaintiffs can no longer shower, bathe, drink or use water in their homes or businesses for fear that they will harm themselves, their families, visitors and customers,” states the 26-page complaint, which names as defendants a dozen corporations that have a current or previous interest in the plant.
Coronet spokesman Tom Stewart said the lawsuit has no merit.
“From our perspective, the fact remains there is no scientific evidence to link Coronet to any of the damages alleged in this complaint or the other one,” he said.
In October, a lawsuit was filed against the plant on behalf of five residents and the estate of one man who died from cancer.
Hours after Thursday’s lawsuit was filed, officials from the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission told county commissioners that preliminary assessment of soil and groundwater tests at two landfills in the area did not reveal anything of immediate alarm.
There were, however, high levels of toxic metals that bore further scrutiny, engineer Paul Schipfer told commissioners.
In test results released last week, the final segment of a federal health study found no arsenic in urine samples from 106 nearby residents. A state report also found cancer rates in the area below the state average.