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Investigators working with the law firms of Baron & Budd and Gomez Trial Attorneys have found more residential drinking water wells tainted with trichloroethylene, or TCE, in the San Luis Obispo area. This raises the total count to at least 10. The two law firms are working together to represent several families in the area and to further investigate the contamination.
According to a January 6 article in The Tribune, the newspaper that serves the San Luis Obispo area, there are two, separate investigations underway into TCE contamination in residential drinking wells. One is the combined Baron & Budd/Gomez Trial Attorneys effort and local officials are performing the other. The latter investigation shows that the number of contaminated wells could be even higher – anywhere from 11 to 21. Other dangerous chemicals have also been found in area drinking water, including tert-Butyl alcohol and 1,1-Dichloroethene.
The cause of the contamination has yet to be determined, but early indications are that the source could be the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. The newspaper reported that the chemicals found in the well are typically associated with fuel and aviation operations. Since the airport sits higher than the surrounding neighborhood, the wells may be contaminated from pollutants from the airport flowing downhill.
TCE is a toxic chemical that has been used for decades as a solvent by a variety of different industries. If a person or animal is exposed to TCE, whether through the skin, the inhalation of vapors or ingestion, severe illnesses can result. The danger is great enough for local officials to recommend people who have contaminated wells not only install a filtration system to remove pollutants, but also use bottled water for both drinking and cooking.
More than a dozen area families have hired Baron & Budd and Gomez Trial Attorneys to represent them in anticipation of potential legal action against the party or parties responsible for the TCE contamination. They may be able to file lawsuits claiming the contamination resulted in reduced property values, as well as other damages.
As Baron & Budd attorney Scott Summy was quoted in the article, “These families have a right to clean water, and we are investigating whoever caused this contamination. This is a serious public health concern for the community because it appears that the plume may be larger than originally known.”