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Federal lawsuit claims chemicals dumped in Tennessee River gave Lawrence Co. woman cancer

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. – A Lawrence County woman is suing three Decatur companies and her utility provider, claiming that they are responsible for giving her tainted water that caused her to get cancer.

Deanna Arnold filed the lawsuit against the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority, 3M Company, Dyneon and Daikin America in United States District Court on Friday. Arnold was diagnosed with kidney cancer in August 2017, the lawsuit states. She claims there is no prior history of kidney cancer in her family.

Arnold’s lawsuit claims 3M, Dyneon and Daikin spent years dumping cancer-causing chemicals in the Tennessee River and took steps to conceal information about health risks associated with consuming the chemicals.

The West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority then took water from the contaminated area of the river and provided it to its customers, knowing the water contained an amount of cancer-causing chemicals, according to the complaint.

In July, the water authority settled with Daikin for $4 million. That money was used to pay for a filtration system that water authority officials said would help clean dangerous chemicals from the water.

The water authority warned customers in June 2016 to stop using its water for drinking, after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the water had higher-than-recommended levels of the cancer-causing chemicals perfluorooctanoic (PFOA) acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic (PFOS) acid. The water authority temporarily got its supply from Decatur Utilities until it could get the new filtration system online.

Arnold’s lawsuit asks for a jury trial and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. It also seeks an injunction requiring the defendants to remove the chemicals from the water supply.