Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. would like to inform the public of an occupational hazard that is threatening the welfare of those who work in “float-sink” coal prep labs in West Virginia.

These testing labs, operating under the radar of proper safety regulations, are exposing employees to a known carcinogen, perchloroethylene, commonly known as “PCE” or “PERC.”

“We have found that the employers of these labs are negligently allowing their workers to have unprotected contact with the PCE as they perform density tests by dropping the coal into vats of this hazardous liquid,” said Robin Greenwald, head of the Toxic Torts Unit at Weitz & Luxenberg. “The workers have the right to know how truly dangerous this process is, and how it can adversely affect their health,” she added.

Injuries linked to PCE include central nervous disease, which can manifest itself in nerve damage. Government health agencies recognize PCE as a probable carcinogen, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. According to OSHA, symptoms of long-term exposure to PCE can include: Dizziness, drowsiness, and loss of coordination; loss of memory, visual perception, and reaction time; and redness and blistering of the skin after prolonged contact.

PCE, a harmful solvent routinely used in coal prep labs, is known to cause serious neurological injuries to those who breathe excessive amounts of its vapor on a daily basis. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that dry cleaning workers exposed to PCE on a daily basis risked serious health problems. For this reason, that industry has improved the control of perchloroethylene in recent years, and modern dry cleaning equipment involves much lower exposures.

Greenwald is no stranger to representing citizens who have been harmed by environmental pollutants. The firm is representing residents of Tennessee in the aftermath of the horrific environmental disaster in which billions of gallons of coal ash sludge broke through a dike of a holding pond at a TVA coal-fired power plant in Kingston, TN. Famed environmental advocate Erin Brockovich, who now has an association with the firm, joined Greenwald for community meetings in the affected areas.

Weitz & Luxenberg is now using its expertise in environmental law to help those in West Virginia whose health has been compromised by PCE, taking on a class action lawsuit. (Katy Addair, Administratrix of the Estate of Gary Addair, et al., v. Litwar Processing Company, LLC, et al. Civil Action No. 04-C-252.)

Those who have been harmed by PCE or other environmental pollutants may complete the form to obtain a free case review. A representative of our firm will be in touch shortly.


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