References . And, it’s not often that we have to worry about the water we are drinking. Then Jan Schlichtmann entered the scene. If you notice any scary trends (such as illness outbreaks) in your area, alert your city and elected officials. A Civil Action is a 1998 American legal drama film written and directed by Steven Zaillian, based on the 1995 book of the same name by Jonathan Harr.Starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall, it tells the true story of a court case about environmental pollution that took place in Woburn, Massachusetts in the 1980s. There are many affordable filtration systems, such as the Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System, that work hard to remove metals, chemicals, and 200+ contaminents out of your drinking water on a daily basis. of Environmental Protection Massachusetts Dept. Yet today, nearly 30 years after that landmark court case, the wells that supplied both toxic drinking water and a legacy of cancer to Woburn remain contaminated despite a … ...there’s a higher chance of your water supply accidentally becoming contaminated and dangerous to drink. Twelve families agreed yesterday to settle for a reported $8 million and to withdraw their claim that chemically-contaminated Woburn drinking water caused the leukemias that killed five children and one adult. Dan Kennedy, a reporter who covered the case for years, notes that "the Superfund law makes property owners responsible whether or not they actually contaminated their land." The Woburn toxics case â¢ In May 1982 a lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight Woburn families by Jan Schlichtmann. In 188 9 Woburn became a city and a year later its population reached 13,449. Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube. Water is one of the single most important elements for survival. Woburn, Massachusetts; Serves: 38,120; Data available: 2012â2017; Source: Purchased surface water; Contaminants Detected. But on a visit to the site, Schlichtmann discovered two things. Rev. âWoburn made people see the profound health effects that can occur from contaminated sites,â says Schlichtmann, who settled the 1982 case for $8 million. In the 1950s, when rapid development caused a chronic shortage of drinking water, town officials began to consider drilling public wells. Lawyers for the defendant in the case, W.R. Grace & Co., insisted that the settlement vindicated the firm's position in the ongoing controversy over whether chemical exposure can cause leukemia in humans. Something was causing the residents of Woburn to develop leukemia at a rate four times higher than the national average. After Jimmy and seven other children died and many others fell seriously ill, tests proved that the water in two public wells was, in fact, seriously polluted with toxic chemicals from industrial waste. On this day in 1984, lawyer Jan Schlichtmann filed the first motion in the case made famous by the book and film "A Civil Action." Well Logs. United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) â¦ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has â¦ A Civil Action is a 1995 non-fiction book by Jonathan Harr about a water contamination case in Woburn, Massachusetts, in the 1980s. On February 5, 2014, The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) received on behalf of the EPA approximately $54 million from W.R. Grace to resolve environmental liability claims associated with thirty-nine Superfund sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly referred to as "Superfund"). Several barrels of chemicals had been found dumped near the Aberjona River. He was out-spent and out-maneuvered by the high-powered defense attorneys hired by corporate giants W.R. Grace and Beatrice Foods. Virtual Tour. He called a meeting for families who had been affected by leukemia and other cancers. "But we went into it partly to show people that we could fight a corporation of that size and magnitude; that people banded together can get justice," he said. Dear Customer, I am pleased to share with you the annual results of our water quality testing. 22 Total Contaminants. Yet today, nearly 30 years after that landmark court case, the wells that supplied both toxic drinking water and a legacy of cancer to Woburn remain contaminated despite a $21 million cleanup effort. They identified Beatrice's 15-acre property as a source of contamination to Woburn's Wells G and H. Today both Grace and Beatrice are paying for the largest and most expensive toxic cleanup in U.S. history, with costs already topping $68,000,000. The judge then threw out the verdict against Grace on the grounds that the jury's written decision was confusing and contradictory. During the mid to late 1970s, the local community became concerned over the high incidence of childhood leukemia and other illnesses, particularly in the Pine Street area of east â¦ The water from Wells G and H was mixed with water from other water sources in Woburn, so the degree of contaminated with TCE and PCE varied. The industry continued to expand, and by 1865 Woburn was home to 21 active tanning and currying shops. Financially and emotionally bankrupt, Schlichtmann settled with Grace for $8,000,000. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and the Chicopee Water Dept., South Hadley F.D. In both towns, engaged community members were primarily responsible for bringing â¦ Since â¦ Now the federal Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency began to take notice. In 1790 Woburn's population totaled 1,727. And, if you do manage to survive that long without water, you’re likely to face serious health consequences due to dehydration. Despite the disappointing results in court, the case left a significant legacy. You need to be logged in to add comments. A Civil Action is a 1998 American legal drama film written and directed by Steven Zaillian, based on the 1995 book of the same name by Jonathan Harr.Starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall, it tells the true story of a court case about environmental pollution that took place in Woburn, Massachusetts in the 1980s. At that time the area included present day towns of Woburn, Winchester, Burlington, and parts of Stoneham and Wilmington. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) Massachusetts Dept. "the Superfund law makes property owners responsible whether or not they actually contaminated their land.". In May of 1979 a major story broke in Woburn. In the 1900's the people of Woburn, Massachusetts suffered a big contamination to some of their water supply, which then was found to have caused many cases of leukemia. But a 1958 engineering study concluded that that the ground water was so polluted that well water would not be safe to drink. Legal limits for contaminants in tap water have not been â¦ In more recent years, well-publicized water contamination events appeared in Hinkley, California (the Erin Brockovich city) and Flint, Michigan. His mother Anne suspected her son's illness was caused by contaminated drinking water in their hometown of Woburn. Contamination (defined as the changes in average stream water caused by humans) of the Aberjona River in Massachusetts began as early as 1648, when Woburn's first tannery opened. You may notice that about once a year you might receive a little test tube with instructions to fill the tube with water and mail it back in to the city. Woburn, Massachusetts By Charles F. Myette, Julio C. Olimpio, and David G. Johnson ABSTRACT Ground-water contamination by chlorinated volatile organic compounds detected by the Mas sachusetts Department of Environmental Quality Engineering in 1979 forced the closing of wells G and H--public-supply wells in the City of Woburn, Massachusetts. non-fiction account of a water contamination case in Woburn, Massachusetts. The History of the Woburn Massachusetts Water Contamination Epidemic Before we dive in, itâs essential to discuss the history of a contaminated water epidemic that took place in Massachusetts during the 1970s. EXCEED EWG HEALTH GUIDELINES. Have a great day and stay safe and alert! Water contamination and environmental liabilities from chemical companies, Woburn (Mass), USA: Country: United States of America: State or province: Massachusetts : Location of conflict: Woburn : Accuracy of location: HIGH (Local level) Source of Conflict. According to Groundwater.org, 50% of us in the US depend on groundwater for drinking. This page was created as a data resource to anyone working with, or just curious about, the Woburn Massachusetts ground water contamination site featured in the best-selling book "A Civil Action" by â¦ 12 FAMILIES, GRACE SETTLE WOBURN TOXIC CASE. For starters, The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 does not test or put safety standards in place for private wells. Wells G & H were two municipal groundwater wells developed in 1964 and 1967 to supplement the water supply of the city of Woburn. Boston University School of Public Health. Woburn got its name from Woburn, Bedfordshire. But we should be. Woburn, Massachusetts was linked to consumption of water from contaminated municipal wells. The defendants were W.R. Grace & Co., owner of the Cryovac Plant, UniFirst Corporation, owner of Interstate Uniform Services, and Beatrice â¦ In Liberty, Grant Miller, My Patriot Supply, ← Older Post Although the settlement laid to rest the claims that the original eight families had been pursuing since 1982, it left untouched the mystery of a larger cluster of cases of the rare blood-cell cancer called leukemia â26 in all â that has afflicted Woburn residents since 1964. It took years for them to find a lawyer, but finally Jan Schlichtmann agreed to represent them. EPA to conduct aerial survey of Olin Superfund Site in... - Woburn, MA - EPA to conduct aerial survey of Olin Superfund Site in Wilmington, The â¦ Digital Maps. That bring me to my next point... Thankfully, we now have laws in place that ensure our drinking water is tested on a regular basis. Precip. By 1860, the population had grown to 6,287. This case study focuses on a childhood cancer cluster in Woburn, Massachusetts, a town 13 miles northwest of Boston. Between 1969 and 1986, twenty-one Woburn children were diagnosed with leukemia, and twelve died. Massachusetts Biotechnology Council awarded Woburn the platinum-level "Bio-Ready community" designation in 2011. The book became a best-seller and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. Everyone needs to do their part to ensure the quality of the water in your town is safe. Anne Anderson sprang into action. With an unheard-of number of Leukemia diagnoses, the community became skeptical that something was polluting their water sources. Woburn's industrial history began in the late 1600s when the first leather tanning company was formed. Woburn was the scene of a high-profile water contamination crisis. Despite that warning, in the early 1960s the town went ahead and drilled two new wells â identified as Wells G and H â on the east bank of the Aberjona. âThe ugly truth is that the damage â¦ The families went on to hire a personal injury lawyer by the name of Jan Schlictmann. environmental hazards in Woburn, and specifically with the contamination of drinking water supplies, is neither supported nor refuted by the study findings. Further investigation of this possible association requires more information. Anne Anderson, the mother of one of these children, was the first to notice that too many children in her neighborhood were being diagnosed with leukemia. The citizens of Woburn did the right thing by demanding water testing as soon as they realized their kids were getting sick at an alarming rate. The wells were used during periods of peak demand even after residents on the east side of Woburn complained that the water smelled and tasted bad, and that it corroded pipes. Last but not least, one of the biggest lessons we learned from this event is to pay attention to what’s happening in your community. "I really didn't want to go through that any more," Anne Anderson, the mother of one of the victims, said during a subsequent news conference at a Woburn church. Brief History. It’s always important to be thinking about your health and it’s easy to put some precautions in place to ensure the water you and your family drinks is safe. But law firms were reluctant to sign on. 8 Major Water Contamination Disasters - Duration: 1:53. First, two huge corporations â W.R. Grace and Beatrice Foods â owned the property where pollution seemed to have occurred; this meant potential "deep pockets" to pay any damages that might be won. The Woburn Water Case: John Travolta’s 1999 movie, A Civil Action was based on the true story of 8 Woburn, Massachusetts families who were seriously hurt by water contaminated by the W.R. Grace Co. During the same time people, a handful of other children became very ill. Thankfully, they survived. Uncontaminated drinking water is an essential component to human health and survival. The EPA, with the resources of the government behind it, pursued the issue. Links. But Schlichtmann's poor judgment and pride were a big part of the problem. Percentage of water from Woburn’s sources: 51% WOBURN. The judge ruled that the jurors should first decide whether the plaintiffs had proved that the chemicals from Grace and Beatrice had polluted the wells. VOCs associated with the tanning industry would come to be associated with severe illness and death in the Woburn â¦ Welcome! This type of system will give you the reassurance you need whether a water contamination disaster was to occur, or whether you simply find comfort in drinking extra purified water. Anne Anderson and a group of other victim's families hired a personal injury law firm to pursue a civil case against the polluters of the well. The risks of congenital abnormalities and birth defects were also pretty high during that period. A generation has already passed since the Woburn site and three others in Massachusetts landed on the EPA's list of the 114 most contaminated spots in America. The History of the Woburn Massachusetts Water Contamination Epidemic Before we dive in, itâs essential to discuss the history of a contaminated water epidemic that took place in Massachusetts during the 1970s. The safety of Woburn's drinking water had long been a contentious issue. Tanneries used toxic compounds to cure leather, and other factories sent what one reporter called "a toxic brew" down the local Aberjona River. Activity 2: New Opportunities in Education, Lesson D: The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850: A Case Study of Resistance, Activity 1: Analyzing the Fugitive Slave Act, Activity 2: Comparing and Contrasting Two Points of View in Newspaper Reports, Activity 3: Anthony BurnsâSlave-Catchers Come to Boston for the Last Time, HS Unit II: Women's Struggle for Equal Rights, 1825 - 1930, Activity 1: The 1840sâHow Things Stood for Women, Activity 2: Advocates for Female Education, Activity 1: Nineteenth-Century Women Activists, Activity 2: The Difference One Individual Can Make, Activity 3: Fifty Yearsâ Worth of Gains, Activity 4: The âAntiâsââ Efforts, Activity 2: The Work of a Nobel Peace Prizewinner, HS Unit III: Voices of Labor - Working People Organize, 1925-1930, Activity 1: Early Years in the Lowell Mills, E/MS Unit I: Two Cultures Collide: Early Relations Between English Settlers and Indigenous People in Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies, Lesson A: Native American Tribes and English Colonists in Early Massachusetts, Activity 1: Mapping Native American Tribes and English Settlements, Activity 2: Reading Early Settlersâ Accounts, Activity 4: Examining Historic Maps for Information, Activity 5: Creative Extension - County Maps, Activity 1: Examining the Puritansâ Goals in Relation to Native Peoples, Activity 2: Establishing "Praying Towns" and Educating Indian Youth, Activity 1: Accounts of King Philipâs War, Activity 2: The Fate of Indian âPraying Townsâ, Lesson D: William Apess and the âMashpee Revoltâ, Activity 1: The Rev. Woburn Massachusetts Water Contamination. The high chemical content â¦ Dan Kennedy, a reporter who covered the case for years, notes that "the Superfund law makes property owners responsible whether or not they actually â¦ Mass Moments is a project of Mass Humanities, whose mission is to support programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life throughout the Commonwealth. ppm=parts per million ppb=parts per A large crowd turned up; when they finished mapping the location of their homes, there were few doubters left in the room. At first â¦ This timeline focuses on the city's case and all the legal aspects that came about from this harmful pollution. The wells were immediately closed. It was discovered that several barrels of chemicals had been dumped near the Aberjona River. But the Environmental Protection Agency forced Grace and Beatrice to pay for the nation's most expensive toxic cleanup. To learn more about what happened--and how you can continue to keep your home water supply safe and pure--keep reading…. 2nd semester music . Type of conflict.  Complaint Filed on Toxic Pollution in Woburn - May 14, 1984 [click to view]  Wells G & H Fact Sheet. USGS Study. But the jury never got to hear from the families. While we are fortunate to live in a great country where we can easily access clean water, it’s always important to be aware that we are not immune to disaster. VOCs were also the suspected villains in an unusual number of childhood leukemia cases in Woburn, Massachusetts, between 1969 and 1986. As Americans, we are fortunate to have access safe drinking water almost anywhere we go. Schlichtmann himself moved to Hawaii for several years of soul-searching. â¢ The suit alleged that serious health effects (childhood leukemia, cardiac arrhythmias, disorders of the immune and neurological systems) were caused by exposure to contaminated water from public supply wells G & H. While no amount of apologies or monetary compensations could account for the lives of the children lost, it was a major learning lesson for our country about dumping chemicals and polluting water sources. In less than a decade, children began getting sick. Anne Anderson met many of the families with sick children when she took her son to Boston for treatment. Several industrial operations in the Lower Millyard area contaminated site soils and surrounding surface waters. Woburn Hydrogeology Data Home Page. So, how do you ensure your water remains safe to drink? The City of Woburnâs water supply comes from five wells from the underground aquifer within the Horn Pond area, which is then filtered and treated at the Horn Pond Treatment Plant. After two frustrating years of litigation, Schlictmann settled out of court. Most of the workers refused to testify; the owner and employees of one parcel consistently perjured themselves; the defense attorneys hid critical evidence of a secret clean-up of contaminated soil that would have significantly strengthened Schlichtmann's argument. When state investigators tested Wells G and H, they found that they were contaminated with TCE (tetrachloroethylene â a suspected carcinogen) and other industrial byproducts. In 1799 Burlington separated from Woburn; in 1850 Winchesterdid so, too. Some 30 years after a 1982 lawsuit involving eight Woburn families and a public water supply contaminated by toxic chemicals, the wells that supplied both â¦ According to MassMoments.org, in 1973, a little boy named Jimmy Anderson who lived in Woburn Massachusetts was diagnosed with leukemia. If you’re drinking from a well, you need to be responsible for having the water tested to assure its safety. Home . His partners discouraged him from taking the case and urged him to tell the plaintiff that it was hopeless. Getting a passing grade from the federal government does not mean the water meets the latest health guidelines. She was convinced that the cluster of leukemia cases in her neighborhood was far from a random occurrence. Although the trial would eventually yield a best-selling book and a movie (A Civil Action), the story would have no happy Hollywood ending. "In Toxic Tort Litigation, Truth Lies at the Bottom of a Bottomless Pit," by Michael Asimow, Silver Screen website, February 1999. They said they did not want money; they wanted to have someone take responsibility for the pollution, apologize, and clean up the water. Photo Gallery. Unfortunately, this is only one of many communities that has been affected by industrial contamination. Groundwater contamination incident. Test Results After Treatment 2 ... MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contamination. Schlichtmann disregarded his partners' advice; his small, under-funded firm would take the case, challenging Grace and Beatrice and the elite Boston lawyers who represented them. of Public Health (DPH) ... greatly reduce the actual risk of contamination.” MWRA follows the report recommendations to maintain the pristine watershed areas. In an effort to prove that corporate pollution was responsible for the illnesses, the affected families utilized two new ap-plications of science: popular epidemiology and clini-cal ecology. Activity 1: Panel Discussion/Debate: Integration v. Segregation? Schlichtmann's inexperience and his firm's resources were no match for the well-financed, seasoned lawyers on the defense team. The location of your water source is directly related to the potential of your water source becoming contaminated. The case is Anderson v.Cryovac.The first reported decision in the case is at 96 F.R.D. In Massachusetts, the four sites that made it onto the nation's first Superfund list are still on it. This started the beginning of a landmark trial, as well as a new era of concern and accountability about the effects of toxic waste. A Civil Action is a 1995 non-fiction book by Jonathan Harr about a water contamination case in Woburn, Massachusetts, in the 1980s.The book became a best-seller and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction.. 11. Th towe n is located ten miles north of Boston and fifteen miles sout ohf Lowell. Historical contamination of the buried valley aquifer at the 133 hectare Wells This landmark case centered on the alleged contamination of two municipal supply wells (G and H) in Woburn, Massachusetts, by three local industries. The victims' families became convinced that the town's polluted drinking water was to blame. They identified Beatrice's 15-acre property as a source of contamination to Woburn's Wells G and H. Today both Grace and Beatrice are paying for the largest and most expensive toxic cleanup in U.S. history, with costs already topping $68,000,000. That cluster, three times larger than normal in a city the size of Woburn (population 36,000), remains under investigation by the US Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Public Health. Something was causing the residents of Woburn to develop leukemia at a rate four times higher than the national average. It was the beginning of a landmark trial; it was also the beginning of a new era of concern and accountability about the effects of toxic waste. Mandy Spence and Amanda Stephenson . You can never be too safe when it comes to purifying your drinking water. It would be difficult and costly to trace the chemicals to specific polluters, and equally difficult to prove that those chemicals had actually caused the cancers. "We have lost a lot more than anybody can pay us for," said Richard Toomey, whose son, Patrick, died of leukemia in 1981, at age 11. Eventually, it was discovered that the chemicals were from two factories owned by two of America's largest corporations-W.R. Grace & Co. and Beatrice Foods Co. Only Grace was found responsible. Perhaps worst of all, the case was assigned to a judge who was friends with the leading defense attorney and who hated personal injury lawyers in general, Jan Schlichtmann in particular. Tanneries used toxic compounds to cure leather, and other factories sent what one reporter called "a toxic brew" down the local Aberjona River. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and the Chicopee Water Dept., South Hadley F.D. In 1730 Wilmington separated from Woburn. Neither W.R. Grace nor Beatrice ever admitted responsibility for the elevated rate of leukemia in Woburn. According to MassMoments.org, in 1973, a little boy named Jimmy Anderson who lived in Woburn Massachusetts was diagnosed with leukemia. "They achieved what they set out to achieve â¦ to make the companies responsible pay for what they did," said Jan Richard Schlichtmann, principal lawyer for the families. Newer Post →. Thomas Carâ¦ Schlichtmann had one stroke of good luck â he found an honest Grace employee who testified that he had witnessed dumping of hazardous waste and that his boss had authorized it â but the lawyer had far more bad luck. Woburn, Massachusetts was the inspiration for the famous book and movie âA Civil Actionâ, which documents the severe water contamination, subsequent health impacts in the community, and legal battle for restitution. After expenses, the victims' families received several hundred thousand dollars each, but no admission of guilt, no apology, and no clean up. The city can produce 4.07 million gallons per day and through the course of the year produces two-thirds of the cityâs water supply. #1, and Wilbraham Water Division Your Drinking Water . A group of families hired personal injury lawyer Jan Schlictmann to find the responsible parties and bring them to justice. That being said, it’s possible for groundwater to be contaminated due to man-made products such as gasoline, oil, road salts and chemical pollutants from factories and other industrial buildings. The case is Anderson v. The city's Daily Times Chronicle publicized a state study conducted in December of 1979 that confirmed that Woburn had a "statistically significant" number of leukemia cases. "Toxic Legacy âBehind â and Beyond â the Hype over A Civil Action: A Reporter Revisits the Scene of the Real Woburn Tragedy," by Dan Kennedy, The Boston Phoenix, December 17 - 24, 1998. This Mass Moment occurred in the Greater Boston region of Massachusetts. The postage should be already paid for on the envelope. Neither W.R. Grace nor Beatrice ever admitted responsibility for the elevated rate of leukemia in Woburn. HS Unit I: Free But Far From Equal: The African American Experience in Massachusetts, 1780â1863, Lesson A: The Struggle for Racial Justice, 1780-1863, Activity 1: Starting With What Students Know, Activity 2: Exploring the Mass Moments Website for Answers, Lesson B: Men and Women, Black and White, Who Made a Difference, Activity 1: Interviewing Anti-Slavery Activists, Lesson C: The Fight for Equal Education, 1800â1855: Two Case Studies of School Desegregation. After viewing the film, students assume the role of environmental scientists and apply their knowledge of water and hazardous waste contamination to create a plan to help lawyer, Jan Schlichtmann, try the case.
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