OUC coal plants linked with spike in rare cancer cases in East Orange County, lawsuit claims

OUC coal plants linked with spike in rare cancer cases in East Orange County, lawsuit claims
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Residents of Stoneybrook, Avalon Park and Eastwood filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that the Orlando Utility Commission's coal-burning power plants contaminated the properties of more than 30,000 residents.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, alleges that the residents' homes and public spaces were polluted with metal, chemical and radioactive residues that correlate with a recent spike in rare cancer cases in the area, spanning 15,000 homes.

It also alleges that the developers of the area and their associates, including Lennar Corporation, U.S. Home Corp., Avalon Park Group and Avalon Park Group president Beat Kahli, are liable for property damage as they've peddled the neighborhood to homebuyers without warning of the health risks while failing to address any pollution problems.

According to a news release from the firm representing the plaintiffs, test results of soil samples taken from the area reveal that pollution from the power plant has "contaminated homes in these communities with carcinogenic toxins at levels in excess of state and federal regulatory standards critical to protecting human health."

"The danger of such exposure is borne out by an epidemiologic analysis based on data from the Florida Cancer Disease Registry and a site investigation, which found a higher incidence of, for instance, pediatric brain and blood cancers including two exceedingly rare pediatric brain cancers," the lawsuit states.

The suit continues: "The only source of these cancer-causing Contaminates is the Stanton Power Plant, which has a unique Contaminate fingerprint."

The suit calls for OUC to shutter their coal plants.

"The Stanton Energy Center's operations are highly regulated by both the state and federal governments," says OUC spokesman Tim Trudell in a statement provided to Orlando Weekly. "OUC meets or exceeds all permitting requirements as environmental stewardship is one of the key principles of our organization. Due to the pending litigation, we cannot get into any additional detail at this time."

A spokesperson with Avalon Park Group says their company does not comment on any active or pending litigation.

Though the city isn't a named party in the suit, a statement from a city spokesperson says, "While OUC is independently operated, it serves the residents and businesses of the City of Orlando. It has always been the City's expectation that OUC operates within state and federal regulations."

We've also reached out to Lennar for comment but have not heard back.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Michelle Irizarry, Valerie Williams and Joanne Nixon.

"The residents of Southeast Orlando are furious – and they should be," says Steve Morrissey, co-lead counsel with the law firm Susman Godfrey, in the news release. "They were deceived by OUC, by the developers, and by the press that lauded Orlando for its commitment to clean energy. It's critical that OUC stop its ongoing pollution and that they and the developers do everything that is necessary to address the damage they have caused and to prevent further harm in the future."

The plaintiffs are also represented Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.

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