Fluoride Action Network

Farmers sue Cabot Corp. for alleged metal fluoride poisoning

Source: Chemical Week | September 17th, 2003 | By Kara Sissell

Two Gilbertsville, PA farmers have filed a lawsuit against Cabot Corp., alleging that its specialty metals facility at Boyertown, PA is responsible for metal fluoride poisoning that has caused dozens of cows to become ill and drastically reduce milk production. The lawsuit, which is scheduled to go to trial in February 2004, cites former employee claims that Cabot operated for years without a permit and without adequate emissions controls.

Cabot Supermetals’ Boyertown plant supplies metal products to the aerospace, chemical processing, and electronics industries. The facility uses hydrogen fluoride and other fluoride-containing products to treat metals used at its facility, an attorney representing the farmers says.

The farmers say they can prove that metal fluoride emissions from the plant are the cause of the cows’ illnesses. Fluoride settles on vegetation in the area, and cows are especially susceptible to fluoride poisoning because they consume a large amount of vegetation, says Mike Davis, an attorney at Carter, Ledyard, & Milbum (Washington) who is representing the farmers. Davis says there is evidence that the company was aware of the excess levels of fluoride in the land near the plant, but the company did not advise the farmers. Davis also says Cabot repeatedly assured the farmers that the Boyertown plant was not responsible for the cows’ illness. Cabot says it cannot comment on pending legislation.

The lawsuit, Merrill Mest et al v. Cabot Corp., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.