The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that living near a chemical plant is insufficient grounds in claiming an illness that might occur in the future.
A class action suit was filed on behalf of neighbors living in the area of the Croda plant near the Delaware Memorial Bridge in the New Castle area.
The plant produces ethylene oxide, a hazardous chemical. A few years ago, discharge shut down bridge traffic and led to a stay-at-home advisory for those living near the plant.
Croda, a UK chemical company, has reached settlements over the discharge. The company built the plant in part due to the difficulty and danger in transporting the chemical used in its products.
After the suit was dismissed in the U.S. District Court, the plaintiffs took the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which sent the case back to Delaware to determine if a person’s presence near the plant amounted to an injury, even if an illness tied to the plant’s emissions had not occurred.
The decision cited national and Delaware case law in its decision.
Also mentioned was the impact of a decision that would allow claims if no injury had yet taken place.
“Indeed, as the Third Circuit noted, “the decision to recognize an increased risk of disease as a cognizable injury is significant, and its implications are far-reaching,” justices noted.
Click here for a copy of the decision.