Temple-Inland sued again over 'black liquor' spill into Pearl River

Michelle Keahey Sep. 6, 2011, 3:55am

Following discharge of "black liquor" into Pearl River, three individuals, either sick from eating contaminated fish, from helping with clean-up of contaminated fish or from living close to vicinity of discharge site, have filed a lawsuit against the paper product plant.

Patricia Williams, Silas Bickham and Patricia James filed suit against Tin Inc. d/b/a Temple-Inland Inc. and/or Temple-Inland Forest Products Corp. on Aug. 29 in Washington Parish District Court. The defendant removed the case to federal court in New Orleans on Aug. 31.

Three class action lawsuits over the incident were filed less than 10 days after the incident occurred last month.

The incident occurred on Aug. 8 when Temple-Inland allegedly discharged into the Pearl River as much as 100 times the amount of chemicals described as black liquor than it was authorized to discharge. The discharge killed fish and contaminated the Pearl River, its tributaries, including Lake Pontchartrain.

Plaintiff Patricia Williams lives close to the discharge site and was hospitalized before the announcement of the discharge with severe symptoms believed to have been caused by the contamination.

Plaintiff Silas Bickham does not reside in Bogalusa but ate fish he obtained from the Pearl River, the suit claims. He suffered extreme symptoms which required emergency treatment.

Plaintiff Patricia James volunteered to assist in the clean-up of the fish that had been killed on the Pearl River. She has allegedly suffered from the development of a rash and skin discoloration.

The lawsuit states the TIN plant is known for its failure to follow simple safety procedures and has continued to operate the plant in violation of various laws and regulations.

The defendant is accused of failing to heed the obvious, failing to maintain its plant, failing to manufacture its products within its own specifications, failing to keep its equipment in working order, failure to shut down the plant as soon as the "upset" occurred, failure to warn of the discharge and failure to provide a detailed list of the compounds and chemicals that were discharged.

The plant is also accused of failing to abide by the rules, regulations and statutes concerning discharge of dangerous chemicals and compounds into the water, failure to warn of the dangerous to the fish, animals and plants in the area of downstream of the discharge, refusal to provide the amounts of discharge, failure to notify the appropriate agencies of the "upset" when it occurred and failure to mitigate the damages.

The plaintiffs are represented by New Orleans attorney Jack H. Tobias.

Case No. 2:11-cv-02182

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