Western Pa. nuclear materials processing plants caused cancer, complaint alleges

By Jon Campisi | Oct 28, 2013

A handful of cancer survivors and relatives of those who perished from the

disease have filed a complaint against two western Pennsylvania nuclear materials processing plants over allegations that the defendants negligently and recklessly allowed the release of radioactive materials into the environment.

The federal complaint, filed at the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, alleges that the plaintiffs were diagnosed with some form of cancer as a result of the negligent and reckless operation, remediation and/or decommissioning of two nuclear materials processing facilities located in Apollo Borough and Parks Township respectively.

The municipalities are located in Armstrong County, which is just northeast of Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh.

The lawsuit claims that throughout the operational history of the facilities, the defendants, Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group and Atlantic Richfield Co., have caused the release of hazardous radioactive substances into the surrounding environment.

The releases, the lawsuit says, contaminated the air, soil, surface water and groundwater in the region, which resulted in the plaintiffs’ injuries.

The lead plaintiff in the case is Alynda Talmadge, a lifelong resident of Apollo, Pa. who says she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2011.

The disease, the suit states, has caused Talmadge severe physical injury, pain, suffering and both mental and emotional damage.

Other plaintiffs in the litigation claim the defendants’ negligence led to them developing a range of cancers, from colorectal to bladder cancer.

James R. Lucas, who resides in Lower Burrell, claims he developed both bladder and lung cancer as a result of his exposure to the defendants’ hazardous materials.

Another plaintiff, Patricia Knight, sued on behalf of her late husband, Kevin Edward Howard Knight, who died earlier this year due to colon cancer.

The husband had developed the disease as a result of the defendants’ “repeated releases of hazardous radioactive substances into the area surrounding the Apollo, Pa. facilities,” the suit states.

The record shows that Kevin Knight was diagnosed with his disease in the spring of 2012.

Other co-plaintiffs include Apollo resident John E. Whitlinger, who allegedly developed throat cancer as a result of the defendants’ activities, Karen Bove, a Greensburg, Pa. resident who developed breast cancer, and Paul W. Lants, who ties his thyroid cancer to the defendants’ negligence.

Plaintiff Donna Jean Wysocki, who also still lives in Apollo, was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2012, a disease she traces to the defendants.

The complaint accuses the defendants of violating the Price Anderson Act and the U.S. Atomic Energy Act.

It contains additional counts of negligence, negligence per se, absolute or strict liability, misrepresentation and concealment, civil conspiracy, and wrongful death.

The plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, exemplary damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as injunctive relief.

The suit was filed by attorneys Bruce E. Mattock, Anne McGinness Kearse and Fidelman L. Fitzpatrick, of the Motley Rice law firm.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-01527-DSC-RCM. 

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