Former employees of Florida’s only lead smelter allege their workplace exposed them to dangerous levels of lead dust and other toxic chemicals.
Gopher Resource is defending against several lawsuits that involve dozens of former workers and their family members – the most recent of which was filed just last week.
The latest complaint contends that Gopher’s Tampa factory was often so full of lead dust that the accumulated material looked like “piles of dirt.” The workers reportedly say that they took the material into their cars and homes and exposed their children and families to potential neurotoxins.
Workers in the suits add that the company gave them respirators, but they would become loose after wear because of perspiration on workers skin, thus interfering with their effectiveness.
The complaint adds that the workers were not evaluated medically by their employer, nor were they made fully aware of the dangers of the exposures they faced on a daily basis.
A separate complaint alleges workers’ exposure to harmful substances outside of just lead, including arsenic and cadmium. They say the exposure, for some, led to “cancer, kidney damage, high blood pressure, cognitive disorders, memory loss, anemia and breathing problems,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The Times embarked on an investigation of allegations at the Gopher Resource plant and alleged that the factory used a ventilation system for years that wasn’t functioning properly. Tampa Bay Times also claims that “air-lead readings inside some parts of the plant were regularly hundreds of times above the federal limit.”
Gopher gave a statement to the Times, which they say did not address the safety allegations, rather offered that the company “is focused on continuous improvement and process enhancements.”