Let’s just sue everyone connected to the dump.
December 20, 2013
A VG Serial: ToxiCity
“There’s more,” Art said. “Stay with me on this. I told you that the state came out after the accident and discovered the leak, right? Well, it turns out they couldn’t determine exactly when the leak occurred. It might have happened before the accident. Years before. If that was the case, the water supply, which, as you know, comes from wells nearby might have been compromised for decades.”
“So what did they do?” Maggie asked.
“What do they always do?” Art’s laugh was bitter. “They studied it. A feasibility study.”
“No. To be fair, after the study, the state mandated the entire site be cleaned up under EPA guidelines.”
“So, they did find problems with the water?”
“Frankly, I don’t know. I can’t find any studies on the water itself, which is kind of strange.”
“What are you telling us, Art?” Maggie said.
“I’m assuming they did find some pollutants, because they brought in Prairie State to clean it up again.”
“They brought in the same company that caused the accident in the first place?” Maggie asked.
Art nodded. “It’s not unusual. There aren’t a lot of companies with the know-how or equipment to do a job like this. Plus, I’m sure Prairie State gave Feldman a good price. It was in their interest. They wanted to see the problem go away as much as Feldman did.”
“So what happened?”
“They cleaned it up. Then the state came in to inspect again. This time they gave the land a clean bill of health.”
Maggie relaxed. “So now everything is OK, right?”
“Well…” Art said slowly, “The truth is it can take as long as thirty years to strip hazardous chemicals out of the ground and water. And that assumes there’s some kind of consistent treatment going on for the whole thirty years.” Art looked at each woman in turn. “You tell me, ladies. Do you see any treatment around here?”
The women shook their heads.
“And our children are seriously ill,” Joan said.
“Which means the crap is still in the ground,” Maggie said.
“And water,” Joan added.
“Tell me something, Art,” Maggie said slowly. “Where was that buried tank? The one they cracked open by accident?”
“Under the playground.”
The women fell silent. Maggie shivered. The developer built houses on land that he knew was contaminated. Her son had become sick because of it. This was supposed to happen in other places. Love Canal. Some third world country. Not Meadow City. Not in her corner of the world.
Finally, Joan spoke. “Art says his firm would be willing to take us on if we want to go ahead with this. But they need seed money.”
Maggie flipped up her hands. “It’s impossible. TJ’s bills nearly wiped us out.”
“Same here,” said Frannie Yablonski. She hadn’t spoken a word up until now.
“I have an idea,” Art said. “I may be able to get some money from the clean water foundation. I can apply for a grant, but it could take as long as six months before we know.”
“And if you do? Get the money, I mean?” Maggie asked.
Joan cut in. “I say we sue everyone connected to this fucking dump. Illinois Edison, Prairie State, SGF Development, everyone.”
Six months went by with no news from Joan’s cousin. By then, though, it didn’t matter. TJ had relapsed, and this time it was fast. Tumors sprouted on his brain, his kidneys, and his heart. He hung on until Christmas; Maggie helped him unwrap his presents. He died two days later.
Episodes in the novel will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Please click the following title,ToxiCity, to read more about Libby Fischer Hellman’s books on Amazon.