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Nicoletti Walker Law Group June 8, 2016

In an announcement that has shocked consumer health advocates and environmentalists, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has indicated that it is revising its standards for the presence of 82 toxic substances in Florida’s water system, even though many of these toxins are known carcinogens. In fact, according to the article, of the 43 chemicals that are already regulated, at least a “couple dozen” will have limits that are higher than what is currently allowed.

Thus far, members of the public have expressed concerns that, instead of weakening the current standards, the DEP should instead be strengthening them. Specifically, citizens appear to be most concerned with the potentially higher levels of benzene, one particular carcinogen that would be allowed in higher amounts. Some are concerned that not only could the proposed standards threaten public health, but they could also damage tourism by threatening real estate values and the seafood industry, particularly given Florida’s issues with storm surge and tidal flooding.

Benzene Concerns

Because the level of Benzene, in particular, would be allowed in higher amounts, some speculate that this proposal could be linked to the state’s efforts to legalize fracking, as a higher (legal) level of benzene in the water that is deemed ”safe” for public health could pave the way for fracking to become a common activity in the state. In other words, as one resident put it, this proposal comes down to one issue, and one issue only: “somebody [just] wants to pollute.”

Arsenic and Dioxin

Other chemicals that would likely either be unregulated or allowable at levels much higher than amounts recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could include arsenic, which would be allowed at levels 1,000 times higher for potable water than recommended by the EPA, and dioxin, another toxic compound, which actually wouldn’t be regulated at all.

Class Action Lawsuits

There have been instances where companies have been sued by citizens’ groups; groups claiming that the companies are aware of the health hazards posed by the chemicals they are manufacturing (and then discharging) close by. Specifically, the complaints argue that the companies knew or should have known that their chemicals harm human health and the environment, and that they would leach from disposal sites, resulting in injury, destruction, and loss of natural resources.

Environmental Toxics Can Be a Personal Injury/premises Liability Issue

When polluters make the water unsafe for others—with the complicity of the local government—it can cause human populations severe injury; specifically, sickness, cancer, and other harms. There isn’t a huge difference between someone who negligently steers their car, causing an accident and injuring you personally, and government agencies and private polluters colluding to allow for human populations to be harmed by toxins in the water.

Clearwater attorney Mike Walker understands what kind of injuries and harm can result from dangerous conditions like these, and he has years of experience representing victims of personal injury and premises liability. If you’ve been harmed and have questions, contact Mike Walker today for a free consultation.