Water Contamination - 1,4-dioxane
1,4-dioxane is a highly toxic substance and a likely human carcinogen that is an ingredient, contaminant, and impurity in certain industrial and commercial products. For example, 1,4 dioxane has been used as a stabilizer for TCA—a solvent used in industrial settings to dissolve greasy and oily substances from machined metal products. 1,4-dioxane is also a known by-product of the manufacturing process of certain consumer products, such as detergents, soaps, laundry pre-soaks, cosmetics, shampoos, and other products. This toxic substance is particularly dangerous because it migrates easily through the subsurface into groundwater and has caused extensive contamination of the public drinking water in Long Island, New York.
In November of 2017, representing Suffolk County Water Authority (“the Authority”), Hausfeld’s environmental team sued the five leading manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and promoters of 1,4-dioxane and industrial or commercial products that contain 1,4-dioxane. The Authority serves approximately 1.2 million Long Island residents and is one of the largest public groundwater providers in the country. The Authority alleges that the defendants knowingly manufactured, promoted, and/or sold products containing 1,4-dioxane to industrial facilities and consumers in Suffolk County, which they knew or should have known were toxic and would inevitably reach groundwater, significantly pollute drinking water wells, render drinking water unusable, and threaten the public health and welfare.
The Authority seeks to recover the substantial costs necessary to protect the public and restore its damaged drinking water supply wells. In 2018, the defendants sought to dismiss this action in its entirety. Hausfeld, on behalf of the Authority, defeated the defendants’ motion to dismiss on all but one claim, and earlier this year, successfully argued that the Authority’s case should be given priority for the completion of discovery. This action was the first major lawsuit filed by a public water provider for contamination arising from the release of 1,4-dioxane into water supplies and is also prioritized for trial. Subsequently, 26 other public water providers have filed similar actions, all of which have survived similar motions to dismiss and are currently pending in the Eastern District of New York. The case is captioned Suffolk County Water Authority v. The Dow Chemical Company et al., Case No. 2:17-cv-06980 (E.D.N.Y.) and is currently pending before Judge Nina Gershon and Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann.