Lawsuit Alleging BOP Implosion Endangered Lives

Lawsuit Alleging BOP Implosion Endangered Lives

The Basic Oxygen Plant in Weirton, West Virginia, once deemed the plant of the future, was demolished by implosion in March. The building was first completed in 1967, and brought basic oxygen steel production, vacuum degassing, and continuous casting together into one operation. Before the plant, the steps were separate, but the building combined the three processes under one roof. It finally stopped being used, and had to be removed for something new, leading to the plant being destroyed in March. A lawsuit followed in the Hancock County Circuit Court alleging 78 residents being irreparably harmed, a large amount of smoke being created, the Weir Avenue neighborhood being showered with particulates, and the blast causing vibrations that damaged property.

After the plant was demolished, a large cloud of black dust was released into the air, causing people who live nearby to become exposed to different toxic substances including hexavalent chromium, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. They leached into the soil at the site, and when the building imploded, the toxic substances became airborne. This allowed the dangerous dust to travel and contaminate the surrounding area. The lawsuit alleges that Frontier Group, the owner of the mill property, did not care about safety and instead cared more about the company’s profits. The safer way to remove the building would have been to use cranes, welders, riggers, and cutting torches, but this would have been slower and far more costly.

The lawsuit accuses the COO of Frontier Industries as well as others of misleading the public about the risks associated with using explosives. It also states that the companies did not clean up or repair damage after the implosion occurred. The lawsuit also mentions negligence because Panhandle Cleaning removed its remediation crew after two weeks, which was much sooner than it should have. Panhandle claims that Frontier terminated services because Panhandle asked for insurance billing or to be paid for services. It filed a separate lawsuit which claims that the COO of Frontier defamed them through certain comments to residents and the media. It also states that the company refused to make a payment and ordered Panhandle to stop working and leave the job site.

The property owners and residents of Weir Valley are seeking punitive damages, compensation damages, and medical monitoring. They also want the city to announce that the permit process is not good enough and is problematic.

Being exposed to hazardous chemicals can lead to many different illnesses. If you have been exposed to a carcinogen on the job and now have cancer like mesothelioma or lung cancer, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us at 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form to speak to an attorney and learn your options.

Linda Harris, “Impending Demolition of Former Weirton Steel Basic Oxygen Plant Has Steelworkers Reflecting on Mill’s Heyday” The Intelligencer (March 8, 2019). [Link]
Linda Harris, “Lawsuit: Profits over safety” The Weirton Daily Times (July 11, 2019). [Link]

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