Firms ordered to fund $1.1 billion lead paint cleanup

Millions of Northern California homes will be covered by the abatement plan

Topics: lead paint, environmental toxins, public health, California, , ,

A 13-year legal case brought about by local governments came to a close Monday when a Northern California judge ordered three companies to remove the lead paint coating the walls of California homes. The removal will target millions of homes, for which the firms — ConAgra, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams – will be responsible to the tune of $1.1 billion. Bloomberg News reports:

Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg in San Jose, California, yesterday tentatively ruled against the companies after a non-jury trial that lasted about five weeks. Two other defendants, Atlantic Richfield Co., a Los Angeles-based unit of BP Plc (BP/), and Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont Co. (DD), won dismissal of the claims against them.

…Kleinberg rejected the manufacturers’ arguments that paint was “not the whole problem,” and that alternate sources of lead contribute to poisoning.

“Consistent with their arguments throughout the trial the defendants rely on statistics and percentages,” Kleinberg wrote. “When translated into the lives of children that is not a persuasive position. The court is convinced there are thousands of California children in the jurisdictions whose lives can be improved, if not saved through a lead abatement plan.”

The prosecution’s legal case went back to 1937, when the paint companies were informed behind closed doors of lead’s health risks. Between then and 1978, when lead paint was finally banned from public buildings, it was argued, the defendants continued to sell the paint while attempting to cover up the knowledge that it was poisoning children.



The companies argued that they did not know the paint was dangerous, and claim they’re being unfairly targeted for “the truthful advertising of lawful products, done at a time when government officials routinely specified those products for use in residential buildings.”

Lead paint continues to be the main source of lead poisoning for children who live in older housing, the government stressed in its lawsuit. As the L.A. Times points out, many of the nearly 5 million homes that will potentially benefit from the abatement plan are in low-income neighborhoods.

The companies have 15 days to object to the ruling.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...