Charleston Chemical Plant Faces Lawsuit for Endangering Over 150 Workers and Families with Mercury Exposure

Chattanooga, Tennessee – A chemical plant in Charleston, Tennessee is facing a ‘mass tort’ lawsuit, alleging that it knowingly exposed over a hundred workers and their families to hazardous levels of mercury, according to a lawsuit filed this week. The lawsuit, which already has more than 150 plaintiffs and is expected to grow, targets Olin Chlor-Alkali. The suit follows an investigation by the Tennessee Mercury Investigation (TMI), which is examining claims of potential mercury contamination resulting from the plant’s operations.

Initially, the lawsuit highlights that the Olin Corporation’s Charleston facility used the mercury cell method, a process that involved recirculated elemental mercury. This method potentially exposed employees and contractors to dangerous levels of mercury and mercury vapor. TMI asserts that the entire production facility was contaminated by the release of this mercury vapor.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified high exposure to mercury as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern. High levels of mercury can lead to various serious medical issues, emphasizes the WHO. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that the Hiwassee River’s watershed, where the plant is located, is “impaired” due to mercury detection in the water. However, TMI claims that the EPA has not published any significant reports regarding the Charleston plant or its surrounding environment.

TMI is urging employees and family members of Olin to contact them if they have worked at the Charleston facility. The plant has also faced other complaints and has been linked to a major chlorine release into the Hiwassee River in the past.

Olin has been contacted for comment but has yet to respond. As the story develops, more details will be gathered.