workers safety and health 


Environmentalists Join Residents in Lawsuit 

A class action lawsuit has been filed in Wayne County Circuit Court against Atofina Chemicals Inc. in the aftermath of the explosion that exposed thousands of downriver residents to methyl mercaptan, chlorine and other chemicals. Friends of the Detroit River, a local environmental group, has joined the lawsuit filed by individual residents.

      Atofina Chemicals is an affiliate of Atofina, the world’s fifth largest chemical company with sales in 2000 of $19 billion. Atofina is the chemical branch of TotalFinaElf, the world’s fifth largest gas and oil company with $107 billion sales in 2000.

      The individuals in the lawsuit are asserting claims that the company was grossly negligent and improperly exposed them to dangerous chemicals causing illnesses. They are requesting money damages be awarded.

      The claims made by individuals will be expanded to prohibit Atofina re-opening the Riverview plant until it has demonstrated it is full compliance with Federal and State environmental regulations and that a full range of emergency procedures are in place including warning, evacuation and monitoring plans. Atofina is also called upon to provide immediate medical assistance, testing and care for victims of the exposure and to provide long term air monitoring by independent agencies.

       Blair McGowan, spokesperson for Friends of the Detroit River, says, “For those of us who live downriver this disastor is a very significant and tragic event. Our lives will never be the same. We do not know what this accident has done to our environment. Atofina is not answering questions. The appear to be more interested in legal damage control than community health concerns.”

      “The Friends of the Detroit River,” says McGowan, “call on Atofina to step up and take responsibility. Provide information to the community. Provide medical clinics. Work with the community to get reopened in a fashion that no one need fear that the next time, an accident will kill hundreds or thousands.”


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