Mo. family faces cancer, sickness after waste company refuses to clean up ‘toxic soup’ leak
A company’s lies and refusal to clean up toxic waste caused cancer and deaths, one Missouri family said this week.
The Spence family told KSHB that BFI Waste Systems insisted that “nothing bad” was on their property when they bought 80 acres to retire on in Clay County 20 years ago.
The family maintained a small farm with vegetables, fruits and cattle. About three years ago, the Spences began to notice that they were getting sick and that their animals were dying.
Lee Spence has had cancer of the lymph nodes, neurological problems, cognitive impairments and severe pain. He showed the station video of cramping in his legs that looks like “worms crawling under his skin.”
Alice Spence also began having neurological problems, seizures, cognitive impairments and tremors. Their son and daughter both face similar neurological issues. Doctors have said that daughter Julia Spence would never be able to have children.
Attorney Ken McClain, who is representing the Spence family, has filed a lawsuit on their behalf, but it could be another year before it goes before a jury.
“My clients were told there was nothing on the site at the very point in time this site had nothing but bad materials in it,” McClain explained.
Investigative reports conducted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resource found that BFI began dumping hazardous chemical waste at a landfill next to the Spences’ home after leasing the property in 1972. The report warned that the chemicals could damage the “central nervous system, kidneys, lungs, gingival tissue and skin,” KSHB reported.
Records showed that BFI shut down the landfill after state and government regulations were strengthened in 1983, but the government did not require the company to clean up the site.
According to the lawsuit, the chemicals dumped at the landfill are believed to have turned into a “toxic soup” and leaked into the Spences’ property.
A study ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 13 years before the Spences purchased the land found that pollution at the site could contaminate the local water supply. And a 1988 report from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources determined that the landfill still had 68 “deficiencies,” and that the rate of groundwater migration from the site was “orders of magnitude” greater than originally thought.
BFI, however, has denied that there was any evidence that the Spences’ land has been contaminated by the hazardous waste.
In a statement to KSHB, BFI said that it was “sympathetic to their apparent health conditions, but there is zero data to support the claim.”
“The Spence property is regularly monitored and the science continues to disprove the assertion that there are chemicals in the soil on their property,” BFI’s Russ Knocke told the station.
Watch the video below from KSHB, broadcast Sept. 25, 2014.