FENNVILLE, Mich. (AP) - A well-respected Grand Rapids lawyer has been appointed mediator in a lawsuit by property owners who say groundwater has been contaminated by a fruit cannery in western Michigan.
Jon Muth will bring together lawyers for the plaintiffs and Birds Eye Foods. The company for decades sprayed wastewater onto fields in the Fennville area, 50 miles southwest of Grand Rapids. The cannery produces fruit fillings, sauces and glazes.
Muth's job as mediator will be to look at the facts and encourage the parties to settle the dispute.
Birds Eye in 2010 announced plans for a new treatment system. A lawsuit pending in federal court says the company should have known about the dangers of spraying wastewater laced with chemicals on area fields.
In May 2010, Erin Brockovich's New York-based law firm filed the federal lawsuit against Birds Eye Foods.
The famed environmental activist believes the company contaminated groundwater in Fennville. The firm for which she consults, Weitz & Luxenberg PC, filed the federal suit on behalf of more than 70 residents.
The seven-count complaint alleges Birds Eye Foods sprayed the water on fields around its plant, which created a chemical reaction that spoiled the drinking water of 150 homes near the facility. That wastewater triggered a chemical reaction in the soil, causing unsafe levels of manganese, arsenic and iron to leach into the groundwater that feeds Fennville residents' wells.
24 Hour News 8 contributed to this report.
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