PENNSYLVANIA residents file contamination suit against Kerr-McGee

Sunday, May 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AVOCA, Pa. (AP) _ Four residents are seeking class-action status for a lawsuit filed against the owner of a former wood treating facility for exposure to suspected chemical contamination.

The residents filed the lawsuit against Oklahoma City-based Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation late Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Scranton.

The residents claim that soil, ground water and their properties have been contaminated by creosote and other hazardous substances, leading to property devaluation and possible health problems.

The lawsuit doesn't name the amount of money being sought.

``I don't think it would be unrealistic to think it would be in the millions, but I couldn't put a figure on it,'' said James A. Gibbons, an attorney representing the residents. ``We are seeking damages to property values and medical monitoring. If there are claims for personal injury that we can link to the chemicals there, we will be presenting those claims also.''

Kerr-McGee operated the 34-acre plant, 10 miles northeast of Wilkes-Barre, for 40 years before closing it in 1996.

The lawsuit will be sent to Kerr-McGee within a few days, Gibbons said Friday. The company has said in a similar case filed by a church in Columbus, Miss., that its process presents no danger to area residents.