MIAMI, Okla. — A group of Miami residents has filed suit against BFGoodrich Co. and Michelin North America Inc., alleging that BFG failed to warn state and local authorities about leaks of hazardous waste at a now-defunct tire plant in Miami.
The citizen suit was filed June 12 before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, on behalf of 106 plaintiffs plus six minor children. All the plaintiffs are residents of the Miami Heights subdivision in Miami, which is near the tire and rubber plant that BFG operated on a 360-acre site from 1944 to 1986.
The complaint alleges that BFG management knew that the underground chemical feedline system at the plant was leaking hazardous waste but never repaired the system or notified authorities that the problem existed.
Furthermore, the suit alleges, BFG knew at least by 1972-73 that the waste had migrated to Miami Heights but failed to report the contamination to the residents, the state of Oklahoma or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"Benzene was utilized in such quantities at the plant that it was delivered via rail car (and) stored in underground storage tanks (UST) a minimum of 10,000 gallons in size," the complaint said.
The plant also had six to eight USTs with capacities of 15,000 to 20,000 gallons, all containing naphtha, white gas and other hazardous chemicals, according to the suit.
Also, BFG stored more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel oil in above-ground tanks on the property at any given time, it said.
The plaintiffs ask the Oklahoma district court to declare BFG and parent company Michelin in violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA); order the companies to operate the site in accordance with EPCRA; assess civil penalties of $25,000 to $75,000 for each day that EPCRA reporting violations are found; and attorneys' and expert witness fees.
It should be noted that Group Michelin did not own Goodrich at the time of the plant's closing in 1986. Michelin acquired Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co., the successor company to BF Goodrich, in 1989.