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Workers at Wastewater Treatment Plant File Lawsuit Against City of East Lansing

EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) - What started as an inspection at the City of East Lansing's Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2007, has unraveled into both past and recent findings of mercury and asbestos contamination.

At the end of last week, nine employees filed a lawsuit against the City of East Lansing, all of them worked at the city's wastewater treatment plant.

The complaint says workers were intentionally exposed to mercury and asbestos.

But the concern over the exposure of these harmful toxins  isn't anything new

According to the attorney representing the workers, Neal Wilensky, it's something the city has known about for years.

"Workers believe that they've been intentionally exposed to two major hazards both asbestos and mercury," Wilensky said.

In November of 2013 there was a mercury spill at the city's wastewater treatment plant, a year later  the Ingham County Health Department conducted an investigation.

Their findings revealed the spill was not cleaned up properly; reporting one to one and a half pounds of liquid mercury was disposed of in places like sinks.

"It should have been promptly cleaned up thoroughly, all of the various departments that have to be notified should have been notified," Wilensky said. "There's been a total disregard for worker safety."

Attorney Neal Wilensky, who is representing the workers, said the asbestos problem dates back to 2007, when a study revealed the toxin was found in the plant and wasn't taken care of until seven years later.

That's why workers filed this lawsuit, over concerns about health issues creating a hazardous environment.

"You're not going to know for a long time whether you have asbestosis which is the disease process from the exposure to asbestos because of the long latency period," Wilensky said.

After papers were filed last week City Manager George Lahanas said as of now, the city is doing whatever it can to address their concerns.

"What I've done to this point has been to assign this to staff people and to our attorney to have a full investigation of the matter," Lahanas said. "We want to get to the bottom of it, it's a safety issue and we want to be able to make things right see where the concerns are so we'll certainly do that."

Lahanas said after all the information is reviewed, the city will be responding to the complaint that was filed by those workers.

We expect to have more information on the conclusion within a couple of weeks.


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