PORTLAND, Ore. — Precision Castparts Corp. has agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused its metal casting facility in Southeast Portland, Oregon, of polluting nearby homes with toxic metals.
The settlement includes millions of dollars Precision Castparts already spent to improve emission controls at its Large Parts Campus, plus $12.5 million in payments to neighboring residents and their lawyers, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Matthew Preusch, an attorney representing neighbors, said it's the largest environmental class-action settlement in Oregon history. He estimates payments will average around $3,500 per household for people residing in the area in February 2016, the timeframe specified in the litigation.
"This case has had a significant role in both correcting emissions problems and then, hopefully, deterring other polluters in thinking they can do this and get away with it," Preusch said.
Attorneys expect checks will begin going out sometime this summer.
"The settlement allows PCC Structurals (the business unit named in the suit) to resolve costly, long-term litigation," Precision Castparts said in a written statement. "As always, we will remain in compliance with our air regulatory permits and will continue to invest in strong emission control technology as part of our commitment to the environment and our community."
People eligible for the settlement live in areas where scientists found pollution in 2016 roughly concentrated around Portland's Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.
The original lawsuit, brought by residents Brian and Alina Resendez in 2016, cited reporting in The Oregonian/OregonLive about elevated levels of nickel in moss near Precision Castparts' facility. The suit alleges that toxins found by U.S. Forest Service researchers and state environmental regulators in tree moss nearby indicated that residents had been exposed to potentially harmful contaminants.
Pat Ball is one of those residents. She and her husband have lived in their home not far from the Precision Castparts facility for more than 50 years. The couple has applied to receive settlement money.
“My husband does have peripheral neuropathy which just came up in the past couple years. Whether that has anything to do with it, I don’t know. But I am a yard person and I’m digging all the time, so I’m in the moss and in the ground and I’m hoping it won’t affect me,” said Ball.
Precision Castparts makes large metal components for airplanes, electrical generators and other industrial products.
The pollution settlement requires Precision Castparts to spend $7.7 million on emission controls and another $2 million on pollution controls. The company has spent the $7.7 million and that work is credited toward the settlement.
Attorneys will seek as much as one-third of a $12.5 million settlement fund, up to $4.2 million.
Residents and former residents can check their eligibility online and view details of the case at structuralssettlement.com. People seeking a payment must file a claim form by April 9.
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