Global Processing

Chemical makers ordered to pay $178 million for contaminating water

June 19, 2006

Three chemical manufacturers were ordered to pay the city of Modesto, California $178 million for contaminating its water with suspected carcinogens. According to the Associated Press, jurors in San Francisco Superior Court found the companies acted with malice because they failed to tell dry cleaners how to use the chemicals perchloroethylene or trichloroethylene without harming the environment. The jury levied more than $175 million in punitive damages late Tuesday and $3.2 million in actual damages for groundwater contamination. Vulcan Materials Co. was ordered to pay $100 million in punitive damages, Dow Chemical Co. was ordered to pay $75 million and RR Street & Co. Inc. to pay $75,000. Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries and Occidental Chemical Corporation, of Dallas, were ordered to contribute to the $3.2 million awarded in compensatory damages. Modesto filed the lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court in December 1998, but the case didn''t go to trial until February.