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Coal ash cleanup leads to workers' compensation claims

Many of the dam workers involved in cleaning up coal ash after a huge spill in Tennessee in 2008 are now realizing that they have been exposed to many hazardous chemicals during the cleanup operation. Now, eight years later, workers' compensation claims are being filed as more and more of these workers recognize that their health has been adversely affected by the exposure to coal ash and what it contained. To date, at least 6 percent of the 900 workers involved in the cleanup operation have joined in a lawsuit filed against the company for which they worked.

According to some of these workers, they never even considered that their health could be affected by the dust they had to remove. At first, they had to work knee-deep in sludge and later everything was covered in dust, which got into everything. Many of the workers remember the chalky taste of the dust as it hung in the air.

The entire time workers were reassured on all fronts that there was no danger to their health. In fact management conveyed a message that the ash was no different than normal dirt and completely downplayed any rumors of danger. However, a variety of environmental tests done by government and independent scientists told a completely different story – a story of high levels of contamination in the water and in the air.

Now, eight years later, Tennessee workers are starting to realize that the health problems they experience may be directly related to the contaminated environment in which they worked. While many have acted, there are more workers who have not yet filed workers' compensation claims. Dam workers, who were involved in the cleanup of this spill and have since shown signs of serious illness, such as leukemia or lung diseases, may benefit from consulting with a workers' compensation lawyer for an evaluation of their individual cases.       

Source: allgov.com, "Former Tennessee Dam Workers Claim Toxic Coal Ash Caused Illnesses", July 26, 2016

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