If you’re drinking from a well, you need to be responsible for having the water tested to assure its safety. A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr (Vintage Books, 1995). Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and the Chicopee Water Dept., South Hadley F.D. This landmark case centered on the alleged contamination of two municipal supply wells (G and H) in Woburn, Massachusetts, by three local industries. It was discovered that several barrels of chemicals had been dumped near the Aberjona River. The city of Amesbury discovered the contamination during initial revitalization efforts for the historic Amesbury Wharf building area, where the site is located. Woburn played host to the first religious ordination in the Americas on Nov. 22, 1642. Woburn, Massachusetts By Charles F. Myette, Julio C. Olimpio, and David G. Johnson ABSTRACT Ground-water contamination by chlorinated volatile organic compounds detected by the Mas­ sachusetts Department of Environmental Quality Engineering in 1979 forced the closing of wells G and H--public-supply wells in the City of Woburn, Massachusetts. He was out-spent and out-maneuvered by the high-powered defense attorneys hired by corporate giants W.R. Grace and Beatrice Foods. Without it, most can’t live longer than 3-5 days. William Apess Presents a Different Point of View, E/MS Unit II: Building a New Society: Life in Colonial Massachusetts, Lesson A: The First English Settlements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Activity 1: Creating Big Maps Showing Early Towns, Lesson B: Religious Intolerance in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts, Activity 1: The Puritans’ Promise to God, Activity 2: High Cost of Following Other Religious Beliefs, Activity 4: How the Puritans Celebrated Christmas, Lesson C: A Young Colony Faces Challenges, Using Mass Moments in Third Grade Classrooms, Contamination in Our Communities: A Case Study of Woburn, Massachusetts. Boston University School of Public Health. The case is Anderson v.Cryovac.The first reported decision in the case is at 96 F.R.D. During the same time people, a handful of other children became very ill. Thankfully, they survived. Legal does not necessarily equal safe. Others, including her own husband, thought that she was obsessed with her son's illness. Historical contamination of the buried valley aquifer at the 133 hectare Wells Source area detection using groundwater model at Woburn, Massachusetts Tanzeer Hasan (Department of Geology, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh) Abstract: Groundwater contamination in the City of Woburn, Massachusetts, was first suspected when water from two municipal wells (G and H) caused illness in a number of residents. The case is Anderson v. Only Grace was found responsible. Lawyers for the defendant in the case, W.R. Grace & Co., insisted that the settlement vindicated the firm's position in the ongoing controversy over whether chemical exposure can cause leukemia in humans. Please consider helping us towards our goals with a donation today. This Mass Moment occurred in the Greater Boston region of Massachusetts. With an unheard-of number of Leukemia diagnoses, the community became skeptical that something was polluting their water sources. In Liberty, Grant Miller, My Patriot Supply, ← Older Post Massachusetts Biotechnology Council awarded Woburn the platinum-level "Bio-Ready community" designation in 2011. Thanks to the community members that stepped forward, countless lives were saved. On February 5, 2014, The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) received on behalf of the EPA approximately $54 million from W.R. Grace to resolve environmental liability claims associated with thirty-nine Superfund sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly referred to as "Superfund"). Woburn Massachusetts Water Contamination. Mass Moments is a project of Mass Humanities, whose mission is to support programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life throughout the Commonwealth. In 1973 three-and-a-half-year-old Jimmy Anderson was diagnosed with leukemia. Schlichtmann himself moved to Hawaii for several years of soul-searching. Woburn, Massachusetts; Serves: 38,120; Data available: 2012—2017; Source: Purchased surface water; Contaminants Detected. Aug 25, 2014 [click to view] [4] Woburn: A Legacy of Waste, The Lawsuit. The Woburn Water Case: John Travolta’s 1999 movie, A Civil Action was based on the true story of 8 Woburn, Massachusetts families who were seriously hurt by water contaminated by the W.R. Grace Co. It would be difficult and costly to trace the chemicals to specific polluters, and equally difficult to prove that those chemicals had actually caused the cancers. But on a visit to the site, Schlichtmann discovered two things. According to MassMoments.org, in 1973, a little boy named Jimmy Anderson who lived in Woburn Massachusetts was diagnosed with leukemia. During the mid to late 1970s, the local community became concerned over the high incidence of childhood leukemia and other illnesses, particularly in the Pine Street area of east … At that time the area included present day towns of Woburn, Winchester, Burlington, and parts of Stoneham and Wilmington. But we should be. non-fiction account of a water contamination case in Woburn, Massachusetts. Thomas Car… Unfortunately, this is only one of many communities that has been affected by industrial contamination. The families nevertheless asserted a victory in their campaign to "send a message to corporate America.". Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) Massachusetts Dept. However, when the couple's minister agreed to counsel Anne, he became convinced she was right. By 1860, the population had grown to 6,287. Since … The Woburn toxics case • In May 1982 a lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight Woburn families by Jan Schlichtmann. When state investigators tested Wells G and H, they found that they were contaminated with TCE (tetrachloroethylene — a suspected carcinogen) and other industrial byproducts. After viewing the film, students assume the role of environmental scientists and apply their knowledge of water and hazardous waste contamination to create a plan to help lawyer, Jan Schlichtmann, try the case. Although the trial would eventually yield a best-selling book and a movie (A Civil Action), the story would have no happy Hollywood ending. Neither W.R. Grace nor Beatrice ever admitted responsibility for the elevated rate of leukemia in Woburn. "I really didn't want to go through that any more," Anne Anderson, the mother of one of the victims, said during a subsequent news conference at a Woburn church. At first the family thought it was a fluke--until 7 other children in the same town were also diagnosed with Leukemia and later passed away. The high chemical content … Since 1969 to 1979, there were 12 incidence of childhood leukemia happening in this area. The families went on to hire a personal injury lawyer by the name of Jan Schlictmann. Between the mid-1800s and into the mid-1900s there were 100 leather tanning operations located on the banks of the Aberjona River. Yet today, nearly 30 years after that landmark court case, the wells that supplied both toxic drinking water and a legacy of cancer to Woburn remain contaminated despite a … In 1850 the Woburn Chemical Works began operation in north Wob… In both towns, engaged community members were primarily responsible for bringing … Newer Post →. This case study focuses on a childhood cancer cluster in Woburn, Massachusetts, a town 13 miles northwest of Boston. Now the federal Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency began to take notice. Before we dive in, it’s essential to discuss the history of a contaminated water epidemic that took place in Massachusetts during the 1970s. So, how do you ensure your water remains safe to drink? Schlichtmann's firm dissolved. non-fiction account of a water contamination case in Woburn, Massachusetts. If you notice any scary trends (such as illness outbreaks) in your area, alert your city and elected officials. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has … After Jimmy and seven other children died and many others fell seriously ill, tests proved that the water in two public wells was, in fact, seriously polluted with toxic chemicals from industrial waste. Although the settlement laid to rest the claims that the original eight families had been pursuing since 1982, it left untouched the mystery of a larger cluster of cases of the rare blood-cell cancer called leukemia —26 in all — that has afflicted Woburn residents since 1964. The location of your water source is directly related to the potential of your water source becoming contaminated. If you get one of these test tubes, please do as directed, fill the tube, and mail it back in. Whether it be a nuclear explosion, a chemical leak from a factory, or a sewage leak, there are many things that can quickly compromise the quality and safety of the water we drink. Schlichtmann had one stroke of good luck — he found an honest Grace employee who testified that he had witnessed dumping of hazardous waste and that his boss had authorized it — but the lawyer had far more bad luck. But Schlichtmann's poor judgment and pride were a big part of the problem. Woburn got its name from Woburn, Bedfordshire. Financially and emotionally bankrupt, Schlichtmann settled with Grace for $8,000,000. In Massachusetts, the four sites that made it onto the nation's first Superfund list are still on it. Installing a water filtration system is a great way to be proactive when it comes to water safety. Mandy Spence and Amanda Stephenson . And, if you do manage to survive that long without water, you’re likely to face serious health consequences due to dehydration. Woburn, Massachusetts was linked to consumption of water from contaminated municipal wells. Activity 2: New Opportunities in Education, Lesson D: The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850: A Case Study of Resistance, Activity 1: Analyzing the Fugitive Slave Act, Activity 2: Comparing and Contrasting Two Points of View in Newspaper Reports, Activity 3: Anthony Burns—Slave-Catchers Come to Boston for the Last Time, HS Unit II: Women's Struggle for Equal Rights, 1825 - 1930, Activity 1: The 1840s—How Things Stood for Women, Activity 2: Advocates for Female Education, Activity 1: Nineteenth-Century Women Activists, Activity 2: The Difference One Individual Can Make, Activity 3: Fifty Years’ Worth of Gains, Activity 4: The “Anti’s’” Efforts, Activity 2: The Work of a Nobel Peace Prizewinner, HS Unit III: Voices of Labor - Working People Organize, 1925-1930, Activity 1: Early Years in the Lowell Mills, E/MS Unit I: Two Cultures Collide: Early Relations Between English Settlers and Indigenous People in Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies, Lesson A: Native American Tribes and English Colonists in Early Massachusetts, Activity 1: Mapping Native American Tribes and English Settlements, Activity 2: Reading Early Settlers’ Accounts, Activity 4: Examining Historic Maps for Information, Activity 5: Creative Extension - County Maps, Activity 1: Examining the Puritans’ Goals in Relation to Native Peoples, Activity 2: Establishing "Praying Towns" and Educating Indian Youth, Activity 1: Accounts of King Philip’s War, Activity 2: The Fate of Indian “Praying Towns”, Lesson D: William Apess and the “Mashpee Revolt”, Activity 1: The Rev. For over a decade, children in Woburn had been falling ill and dying of leukemia in unusually high numbers. The industry continued to expand, and by 1865 Woburn was home to 21 active tanning and currying shops. Between 1969 and 1986, twenty-one Woburn children were diagnosed with leukemia, and twelve died. Twelve families agreed yesterday to settle for a reported $8 million and to withdraw their claim that chemically-contaminated Woburn drinking water caused the leukemias that killed five children and one adult. That being said, there are many toxic chemicals and pollutants that can creep into our water sources completely undetected. Further investigation of this possible association requires more information. They identified Beatrice's 15-acre property as a source of contamination to Woburn's Wells G and H. Today both Grace and Beatrice are paying for the largest and most expensive toxic cleanup in U.S. history, with costs already topping $68,000,000. Virtual Tour. Precip. This page was created as a data resource to anyone working with, or just curious about, the Woburn Massachusetts ground water contamination site featured in the best-selling book "A Civil Action" by … The postage should be already paid for on the envelope. Schlichtmann disregarded his partners' advice; his small, under-funded firm would take the case, challenging Grace and Beatrice and the elite Boston lawyers who represented them. 12 FAMILIES, GRACE SETTLE WOBURN TOXIC CASE. According to Groundwater.org, 50% of us in the US depend on groundwater for drinking. On this day in 1984, lawyer Jan Schlichtmann filed the first motion in the case made famous by the book and film "A Civil Action." Test Results After Treatment 2 ... MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contamination. The town, 12 miles northwest of Boston, had been home to industry for over 150 years. The city can produce 4.07 million gallons per day and through the course of the year produces two-thirds of the city’s water supply. Woburn was the scene of a high-profile water contamination crisis. The settlement was announced in US District Court in Boston by Judge Walter Jay Skinner, who admitted he had erred in giving instructions to the jury in a case involving claims by eight of the families and was prepared to order a new trial —a prospect that neither side apparently relished. Your water also comes from local supplies Links. The two wells in east Woburn were immediately shut down, and the EPA began testing the area's ground water to determine the origin of contamination. Most of the workers refused to testify; the owner and employees of one parcel consistently perjured themselves; the defense attorneys hid critical evidence of a secret clean-up of contaminated soil that would have significantly strengthened Schlichtmann's argument. 1876-1900. 1st level: Infrastructure and Built Environment: Type of conflict. Industrial solvent is the reason causing the water pollution of the river in Woburn Massachusetts. Contamination (defined as the changes in average stream water caused by humans) of the Aberjona River in Massachusetts began as early as 1648, when Woburn's first tannery opened. 8 Major Water Contamination Disasters - Duration: 1:53. The History of the Woburn Massachusetts Water Contamination Epidemic Before we dive in, it’s essential to discuss the history of a contaminated water epidemic that took place in Massachusetts during the 1970s. Tanneries used toxic compounds to cure leather, and other factories sent what one reporter called "a toxic brew" down the local Aberjona River. Doctors told her that it was very difficult to prove that environmental conditions caused cancer clusters, but Anne Anderson continued to suspect the water. The plaintiffs were a group of eight families that lived in a part of town served by the two municipal wells. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, it took residents in the town of Woburn, Massachusetts years to discover that polluted water was causing unusual numbers of childhood Leukemia cases. Water contamination and environmental liabilities from chemical companies, Woburn (Mass), USA: Country: United States of America: State or province: Massachusetts : Location of conflict: Woburn : Accuracy of location: HIGH (Local level) Source of Conflict. That cluster, three times larger than normal in a city the size of Woburn (population 36,000), remains under investigation by the US Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Public Health. ppm=parts per million ppb=parts per "They achieved what they set out to achieve … to make the companies responsible pay for what they did," said Jan Richard Schlichtmann, principal lawyer for the families. The wells were immediately closed. Woburn was first settled in 1640 near Horn Pond, a primary source of the Mystic River, and was officially incorporated in 1642. In the 1950s, when rapid development caused a chronic shortage of drinking water, town officials began to consider drilling public wells. On May 14, 1984, he filed the first complaint in the case. Woburn, Massachusetts was the inspiration for the famous book and movie “A Civil Action”, which documents the severe water contamination, subsequent health impacts in the community, and legal battle for restitution. The city's Daily Times Chronicle publicized a state study conducted in December of 1979 that confirmed that Woburn had a "statistically significant" number of leukemia cases. After expenses, the victims' families received several hundred thousand dollars each, but no admission of guilt, no apology, and no clean up. In 188 9 Woburn became a city and a year later its population reached 13,449. VOCs were also the suspected villains in an unusual number of childhood leukemia cases in Woburn, Massachusetts, between 1969 and 1986. His mother Anne suspected her son's illness was caused by contaminated drinking water in their hometown of Woburn. According to MassMoments.org, in 1973, a little boy named Jimmy Anderson who lived in Woburn Massachusetts was diagnosed with leukemia. Schlichtmann worked doggedly to collect the necessary depositions; he sank all of his firm's assets into a $3,500,000 "discovery" process that required expensive engineering studies and expert witnesses. 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