California City Files Lawsuit Against Chemical Manufacturers After Finding TCP in its Water System

A southern California municipality has sued to recover costs it will have to spend restoring the health of its water supply after tests revealed harmful levels of 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP) therein. On Monday, Corona, California, and its water authority filed a complaint against The Dow Chemical Company, Shell Oil Company, FMC Corporation, and Nutrien Ag Solutions, Inc., alleging product liability, tort, and property law causes of action. 

The Central District of California complaint claims that the defendants are manufacturers, distributors, and releasers of the highly toxic chemical. The filing explains that TCP is “an inert ingredient, impurity and/or manufacturing byproduct in certain soil fumigant products used to control nematodes (microscopic worms that infest plant roots) that were marketed primarily, although not exclusively, from the 1940s through the 1980s.” TCP also allegedly migrates through soil and groundwater with ease, resists natural degradation, and is difficult and expensive to remove.

The city asserted that the defendants are responsible for the contamination of its wells by TCP and TCP-containing products. As proof, the city points to tests that detected TCP in city wells at levels “substantially above” the applicable standard. The city claims that the defendants’ conduct has caused unreasonable interference with and damage to the “limited subterranean supplies of fresh drinking water” on which the city depends.

The city further contended that TCP poses significant threats to public health and welfare because it is known to cause liver and kidney damage and blood disorders in animals who have ingested the substance. It reportedly has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and is known to cause cancer for purposes of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. The city seeks, among other things, an award of compensatory damages from all defendants, jointly and severally, and an award of exemplary damages from Dow and Shell.

The plaintiffs are represented by SL Environmental Law Group, PC.