City of Metropolis and Massac County officials have agreed to be plaintiffs in a planned lawsuit against Honeywell regarding how operations at its Metropolis facility have impacted the public’s health and welfare.
Both the Metropolis City Council and Massac County Commission approved motions last week to participate in a civil lawsuit to be filed by the Thompson Barney law firm, of Charleston, West Virginia.
The action authorizes attorneys to “file a civil complaint against Honeywell and any other responsible parties to seek abatement of nuisances at the Metropolis plant and any other relief available under the law.”
The council took action on behalf of the city at its Monday, July 12, meeting. Seven aldermen — Michele Longworth, Jeremy Holley, Chad Lewis, Dylan Chambers, Brian Anderson, Al Wagner and Darryl Neill — voted in favor of the motion, while alderman Chuck Short abstained.
Commissioners Jerel Childers and Jayson Farmer — commission Chairman Jeff Brugger was absent — took action on behalf of Massac County at its Tuesday, July 13 meeting.
Prior to each government body’s vote, Kevin Thompson made a hourlong presentation in closed session.
Thompson, based with the Thompson Barney Law Firm, is working with local attorney Richard Kruger on the Honeywell litigation. Environmental law and water pollution are two of the areas Thompson Barney specializes.
Metropolis corporate counsel Rick Abell said failure by Honeywell to comply with permits and state laws has caused people to have medical costs and losses in property values.
The abatement, or cleanup, “would ultimately be determined by the court,” Abell said. “However, the lawsuit will focus on three primary objectives: make the plant safe before it resumes operations; remove and remediate contamination within the community and at the plant site; and impose locally enforceable standards for continuing operations or, alternatively, to compel state and federal regulators to enforce reasonable health, safety and environmental protection standards going forward. That could result in multiple forms of relief, such as requiring Honeywell to renovate buildings and equipment to protect stored materials from exposure and ultimately release into the environment or installing the latest in effective emission control structures, ventilation controls and operational procedures properly designed for the quantity and types of materials to be processed at the plant. The lawsuit could also result in an award of damages.”
He added that Honeywell may be forced to cleanup some city property and also lots owned by individuals.
Abell said the local government bodies “are listed as plaintiffs in the same lawsuit. We will each have our own separate, but very similar, claims in the lawsuit and seek separate recoveries.”
Clyde Wills, editor emeritus of the Metropolis Planet, contributed to this article.