NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The city has agreed to pay $12 million to 12 families whose children contracted leukemia while living near a Bronx landfill, ending more than two decades of legal wrangling, WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reported.
The plaintiffs argued that between the 1980s and mid-1990s the Pelham Bay landfill contained chemicals, byproducts from oil processing and other carcinogenic material. It was eventually designated a federal Superfund site. Twelve children who lived nearby developed cancer — three of whom died.
In a legal battle that lasted 22 years, the cases had been consolidated into one lawsuit that was set to go to trial next month.
Patricia Noonan’s daughter, Keri, died of leukemia at age 10. Noonan led the fight to convince families of other sick children to sue and to have the site classified as a Superfund site, which allowed it to receive federal money for cleanup efforts.
“It just kept me going, remembering how strong she was and how brave she was,” Noonan said.
“You couldn’t even keep your windows open in the summer because of the stench,” she recalled.
Fay Leoussis, the chief of the city Law Department’s tort division, said in a statement that the settlement did not mean the city was admitting responsibility for the illnesses.
“The city believes that it managed the landfill lawfully and in accordance with accepted industry practices and that nothing emanating from the landfill caused plaintiffs to become ill,” the statement said. “However, these individuals, three of whom tragically died, undeniably suffered greatly from their disease. In light of the uncertain outcome in front of a jury of a complicated scientific case, the city concluded that it was in the best interests for all concerned to enter into this settlement.”
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