Como neighbors review options as testing for toxic chemicals continues

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More than 75 residents of the Como neighborhood in southeast Minneapolis packed a town meeting at Van Cleve Park on Saturday to review their options in light of revelations about toxic vapors that have been confirmed in some of their homes. General Mills faces two class-action lawsuits, filed this week regarding the dumping of a chemical known as TCE in the area.

FOX 9 reported that at least 1,200 people could be affected by the TCE vapor already found in soil samples and that number could increase. TCE was used as a cleaning solvent at a former General Mills facility and dumped into the ground. Although the groundwater has been addressed, TCE vapors are now seeping into homes and businesses through the ground.

KARE reported that homeowners heard from a team of associates of environmental activistErin Brockovich who have offered legal representation. Bob Bowcock, an investigator and a colleague of Brockovich. told them a class action lawsuit may not be in their best interest, saying "Class actions represent each of you as equals. You're called similarly affected or similarly impacted and the problem that I have with those is your house is different than his house. Your impacts are all different and you're all unique individuals."

General Mills has offered ventilation systems to all the homes that test over the EPA limits. So far, 42 homes tested above, and 27 below those limits.
The Star Tribune reported that attorneys involved in the homeowner lawsuits are raising questions about the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the state office that is supposed to make the company fix the problem.

The PCA is “failing” to protect residents in the Como neighborhood because it is allowing General Mills to conduct short-term tests and pay only for fixes in homes with high levels of TCE, said Norman Berger, a Chicago attorney who filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Como homeowners. The homeowners’suit seeks remediation systems in all 200 of the homes being tested, regardless of the results.

“To make a remediation decision based on an isolated measurement is scientifically irresponsible,” he said.

The homeowners’ lawsuit seeks remediation systems in all 200 of the homes being tested, regardless of the results.

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