ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. (WOOD) - A family whose well water has been contaminated with arsenicfiled a federal lawsuit Tuesday, accusing the nearby Birds EyeFoods plant in Fennville of being the cause.
The suit comes one day after 24 Hour News 8 reported that one ofthe family's neighbors has recruited high-profile environmentalactivist ErinBrockovich in the water contamination battle.
The Lozar family first contacted us in June, concerned abouttheir drinking water. Heather Lozar said Tuesday she hopedBrockovich's potential involvement will lead to a quickerresolution.
"The sooner, the better," she said.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality documents obtainedby 24 Hour News 8 back in June showed the Lozar's well and othersin the area had higher than acceptable levels of certain heavymetals. For some, it was arsenic, others manganese or iron.
DEQ officials said then they believe the nearby Birds Eye Foodsplant was responsible. Birds Eye sprays used water from itsFennville plant onto farm fields, including ones just feet from theLozars' home.
It doesn't discharge heavy metals directly, but DEQ officialssaid the organic compounds Birds Eye does discharge cause theoxygen depletion in the groundwater, allowing the heavy metals tocome in.
More than six months later, Birds Eye still provides bottledwater 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 anddrinking and cooking with the water."
Kari Craton gets bottled water from Birds Eye too. She says thefirm has had to replace her private well twice due to contaminationbecause the first new well was worse than the existing problem.
"It was so disgusting for that 18 weeks," Craton recalled in aninterview. "My fingernails were orange."
The second new well has made things better for Craton but otherneighbors are still dealing with trouble. John Dekker lost allwater pressure in his home. Someone called out to fix it said theproblem was too much iron in the water.
"The line coming in was so clogged with iron that the waterwouldn't go through it so they bypassed my water softener. Whenthey did that about six weeks after that four to six weeks myboiler was ruined," Dekker said.
The ongoing problems are part of the reason Craton decided toget in touch with Brockovich.
"I spoke with my sister and she said they really, truly have anErin Brockovich website," Craton said. She said she was "amazinglysurprised" to actually hear from Craton.
Brockovich is looking into planning a community meeting.
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