Azalea resident sues Raytheon over contamination

04/09/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Last year St.Petersburg residents living in the Azalea neighborhood learned that they were living within contamination from underground wastewater seeping from the nearby Raytheon Company plant.

Two class-action lawsuits were filed, and one homeowner has filed her own separate lawsuit.

Colleen Galligan owns a home on Farragut Drive in Azalea Park. That home is one of 19 wells that tested positive for contamination last year. Galligan said that, in one of the worst housing slumps ever, the fact that that there is contamination underneath makes it virtually impossible to sell her home.

In January, state environmental and health officials held a town hall meeting to meet with about 200 members of the neighborhood; they told them that the contamination does not appear to threaten human health.

Contamination was first discovered near Raytheon in 1991 from a drum storage site belonging to a company called E-Systems. That factory produced a variety of toxic chemicals. Raytheon bought E-Systems in1995, but most of those in the neighborhood in question weren’t fully informed until last year. That led to legislation being promulgated in Tallahassee this session to address that problem. It’s being sponsored in the Senate by Democrat Charlie Justice, and in the House by Democrat Rick Kriseman.

Kriseman said his bill has gone through two committees, but needs to go through two more in the House.

Jon Kasle is a spokesman for Raytheon. He said the corporation followed the correct procedures in informing those concerned about the toxic plume.

Galligan says Raytheon dropped the ball in failing to alert the neighbors about the contamination. Galligan says she is looking for financial compensation from Raytheon, but would not disclose an amount.

Raytheon’s Jon Kasle says currently the corporation is treating the groundwater at the site.

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