August 7, 2009

Oregon family seeks to change hazardous waste statute

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A family in Oregon is fighting a state statue that does not allow victims of groundwater or soil pollution to collect legal fees in the event that they win their case.

Steve and Debbie Mangold of Oregon City discovered in 2007 when they were considering selling their property that their home had unsafe levels of gasoline contamination in the soil and groundwater, the result of leaks in a neighbor’s underground tanks of gasoline. The Mangolds removed 955 tons of contaminated soil and installed 20-foot wells to continually evaluate the groundwater quality. They filed a civil lawsuit against their neighbors, but settled in 2008 when they could no longer afford the legal fees. They hope to change the statute to not only cover costs of litigation, but also allow victims to seek compensation for contamination that has occurred more than a decade before.

“They have spent a huge amount of their financial resources to fight as hard as they can to get what is a reasonably fair result, at great risk to themselves,”  their attorney Brooks Foster told the Portland Tribune. “It’s something that few people in their position would have been able to do.”

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