Updated: Tuesday, 06 Jan 2009, 6:50 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 06 Jan 2009, 5:45 PM EST
ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. (WOOD) - A family whose well water has been contaminated with arsenic filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday, accusing the nearby Birds Eye Foods plant in Fennville of being the cause.
The suit comes one day after 24 Hour News 8 reported that one of the family's neighbors has recruited high-profile environmental activist Erin Brockovich in the water contamination battle.
The Lozar family first contacted us in June, concerned about their drinking water. Heather Lozar said Tuesday she hoped Brockovich's potential involvement will lead to a quicker resolution.
"The sooner, the better," she said.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality documents obtained by 24 Hour News 8 back in June showed the Lozar's well and others in the area had higher than acceptable levels of certain heavy metals. For some, it was arsenic, others manganese or iron.
DEQ officials said then they believe the nearby Birds Eye Foods plant was responsible. Birds Eye sprays used water from its Fennville plant onto farm fields, including ones just feet from the Lozars' home.
It doesn't discharge heavy metals directly, but DEQ officials said the organic compounds Birds Eye does discharge cause the oxygen depletion in the groundwater, allowing the heavy metals to come in.
More than six months later, Birds Eye still provides bottled water to the Lozars and other families.
"The water quality is definitely still an issue," Lozar said. "It's inconvenient because having to wash the baby in that water -- I had a baby in september -- and rinsing all our vegetables and drinking and cooking with the water."
Kari Craton gets bottled water from Birds Eye too. She says the firm has had to replace her private well twice due to contamination because the first new well was worse than the existing problem.
"It was so disgusting for that 18 weeks," Craton recalled in an interview. "My fingernails were orange."
The second new well has made things better for Craton but other neighbors are still dealing with trouble. John Dekker lost all water pressure in his home. Someone called out to fix it said the problem was too much iron in the water.
"The line coming in was so clogged with iron that the water wouldn't go through it so they bypassed my water softener. When they did that about six weeks after that four to six weeks my boiler was ruined," Dekker said.
The ongoing problems are part of the reason Craton decided to get in touch with Brockovich.
"I spoke with my sister and she said they really, truly have an Erin Brockovich website," Craton said. She said she was "amazingly surprised" to actually hear from Craton.
Brockovich is looking into planning a community meeting.