Andrews contaminated water lawsuit hearing set

Local News

ANDREWS, Ind. (WANE) — A court date has been set in the case over contaminated water in the town of Andrews.

On Nov. 9, Adams Superior Court Judge Chad Kukelhan will hear the town’s lawsuit against Raytheon Technologies. This will be the first time both sides will appear in court.

Back in June, the town filed an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction and asked the court to set an emergency motion for hearing as soon as practicable.

Background

Back in June, Huntington County Homeland Security and Emergency Management advised Andrews residents to avoid using their water for any purpose after water test results showed that one of the town’s wells had 26 parts per billion of vinyl chloride – more than ten times the maximum contaminate level of 2 parts for billion allowed in drinking water. The town was left without clean water for two weeks.

The town of Andrews and more than 75 residents have filed suit over the town’s drinking water, which they claim was ruined by chemicals from United Technologies and a local gas station. Federal court documents contend company employees have admitted to pouring powerful cleaning chemicals into the soil, down a drain, and into 55-gallon drums, which were allowed to rust outside.

Originally the case was scheduled in Huntington Superior Court but Raytheon filed a removal to federal court. Then in July, the case was moved from federal court to the Huntington Circuit Court before returning to Huntington Superior Court in mid-July. A special judge was appointed from Adams County.

Town of Andrews claims

According to the emergency motion, United Technologies contaminated the town’s groundwater by dumping hazardous chemicals at the old Dana plant in Andrews, which United Technologies now owns. The town of Andrews filed a lawsuit in 2016 to get the courts to order United Technologies to clean up contamination at the site of the former Dana plant in town. That lawsuit is currently in the fact and discovery phase, where both sides are preparing for trial.

The emergency motion goes on to say that Thomas Barnard, a lawyer with the firm representing Andrews, said Raytheon was aware of the contamination in that well in 1994. They then installed an air stripper, which is supposed to filter out volatile organic chemicals, including vinyl chloride. Barnard said vinyl chloride is known to cause cancer, and so there is only so much allowed in drinking water. While the air stripper filters out the chemical, Barnard said it experienced major issues between June 5 and June 10, 2020.

The town of Andrews is requesting the court go through with its request for hearing on the emergency motion for a preliminary injunction. The town is asking that the court to consider that Raytheon should install two new water supply wells, upgrade the Air Stripper system, and supply bottled water.

Raytheon Technologies Corporation Response

In response to the town of Andrews emergency motion, Raytheon Technologies Corporation says that the town “did not ‘rush’ to the courthouse when they discovered levels of VOCs” and that “there is no factual or legal basis supporting the plaintiff’s request for emergency, preliminary injunction relief.”

The response goes on to say that the “water is safe” and that the town “cannot demonstrate ongoing safety concern with the Town’s drinking water.” Because of these reasons the company is asking the court that the motion for an emergency preliminary injunction should be denied.

Hearing

The hearing between the town of Andrews and Raytheon Technologies will be held Nov. 9 at 8:30 a.m. at the Adams County Courthouse.

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