Azalea Neighborhood Association, Inc.


Our next meeting will be on Thursday - October 8, 2009 at 7:00 pm. 

Topic  "Contamination" 

We will have questions and answers to the update from 9/30/09 - By MARK  DOUGLAS | News Channel 8 TAMPA - A federal judge today granted class-action status to a lawsuit by St. Petersburg residents who accuse the Raytheon Co. of polluting their neighborhood with industrial waste.

The 44-page ruling clears the way for hundreds of people who live near the Raytheon defense plant at 1501 72nd. St. N. to pursue claims for property damages. The lawsuit says pollution has been spreading under homes, parks and playgrounds for at least 10 years without the knowledge of many residents.  In granting the request, U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington said the certification may be withdrawn "if at any time it appears that a plaintiff fails to meet the requirements."  In its reaction to the ruling, Raytheon noted that the lawsuit must pass through four legal stages before a final decision is reached and noted that the action was weakened during hearings before Covington last week. "The plaintiffs have abandoned their claims of health risk, vapor intrusion and medical monitoring, leaving alleged diminution of property value as the remaining basis for their suit," company spokesman Jon Kasle said in a news release.

Raytheon will continue working with residents to clean up the pollution, Kasle said, a process the company estimates will take 25 years. In addition to gaining class action status, the residents prevailed in another area of Covington's ruling: She decided to recognize their estimate, not Raytheon's, of how far the pollution has spread. The area encompasses 1,350 land parcels, almost twice the size of the area defined by Raytheon and accepted by the state for cleanup purposes. Attorneys for the residents say the plume has tainted irrigation wells with cancer-causing chemicals and depressed property values up to a mile away from the plant. They fault Raytheon and the state for keeping them in the dark until a News Channel 8 news investigation revealed the problem last year. Raytheon's lawyers opposed class-action status for the legal action, saying there is no common impact for the property owners. Raytheon says the pollution problem varies from property to property. The judge's ruling has no impact on Raytheon's requirement to clean up the pollution, which first came to the state's attention in 1991 when the site belonged to E-Systems. Raytheon took over the site and assumed responsibility for the cleanup in 1995 but has done little work on it since then. The state Department of Environmental Protection still hasn't approved Raytheon's cleanup plan. During last week's hearing, an internal Raytheon memo was introduced that indicates residents aren't the only ones scratching their heads over the slow progress of the cleanup. The memo recounts how Raytheon's onsite communications manager, Jack Radgowski, first reacted to a call about the pollution from a News Channel 8 reporter on March 10, 2008. "He has all the same questions we came up with…and a few more," Radgowski wrote in the e-mail to his superiors. "His first question is, 'It's been 16 years … why haven't we cleaned it up?" Reporter Mark Douglas can be reached at (727) 451 2333.

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