Lead Exposure At Gopher Plant Florida

lead exposure at gopher during a smelting process

Prolonged exposure to dangerous levels of lead dust has been the unfortunate reality for workers at Gopher Resource. The company’s smelting plant in Tampa has been exposing its employees to extensive risk due to airborne lead dust particles – which may lead to increased kidney failure, brain damage, cardiovascular diseases, or even death. If you or people you know have been employed at Gopher Resource and experienced lead poisoning symptoms, you can claim compensation through a Gopher Resource lawsuit.

lead exposure at gopher during a smelting processInformation On Lead Exposure Gopher Resource Lead Smelting Plant

Gopher Resource is a battery recycler based in Tampa, Florida. Its employee capacity exceeds 300 people, and it recycles more than 50,000 used car batteries daily. Since its first operations in 2006, it has recycled more than 75 million batteries and is one of the leading providers of recycling services in the US.

Gopher Resource Lead Poisoning Uncovered

The 18-month investigation led by reporters Corey G.Johnson, Rebecca Woolington, and Eli Murray uncovered evidence that the lead smelting plant has been putting employees at high risk of lead poisoning due to prolonged exposure to airborne lead dust particles. The levels of exposure were hundreds of times higher than federal government guidelines, and the exposure was not limited to the plant; employees were transferring lead dust particles into their homes. These reporters also found the following:

  • A staggering 80% of the employees have suffered from increased blood pressure, kidney dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease in the 4 years between 2014 and 2018.
  • At least 14 employees have had occupation-related coronary disease or stroke in the past 5 years.
  • School district officials found elevated lead levels on campuses.
  • Lead contamination continued unchecked for years at the facility, as it was given ample notice before Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections.
  • Gopher Resource has been discharging contaminated water into Palm River, sending toxic waste into Tampa’s sewage system, discarding hazardous waste inappropriately, and dumping dangerous material into a landfill close to a residential area (which -after it was reported, Gopher had to clean up).

 

Federal Response to Lead exposure at Gopher

After a thorough investigation, Johnson, Woolington, and Murray found evidence that some federal actions have already been taken. In detail:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cited Gopher Resource as a substantial lead contaminator. Similarly, after running checks to monitor compliance with the Clean Air Act, the EPA noted that Gopher was in violation of environmental laws and regulations.
  • In 2021, two Congress members requested an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor on Gopher. OSHA then cited Gopher for 44 violations. One of them involved purposeful exposure of employees to high lead levels.
  • County regulators found more than 25 violations in their investigation.
  • OSHA and Hillsborough County’s Environmental Protection Commission fined Gopher $837,000.
  • The violations and subsequent fines put Gopher Resource on the “very high credit risk” list by Moody’s Investors Service.
  • Local health officials began extensive screening checks on children for lead levels.

 

Lead Exposure and Poisoning Risks

Lead exposure can lead to elevated lead levels in the bloodstream. It is not easily detectable and may only be found after symptoms have become too obvious to ignore.

 

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Newborn Babies and Children

Children are more prone to severe symptoms of lead poisoning due to the increased sensitivity of their bodies. Symptoms may include:

  • Developmental delay and subsequent learning difficulties
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Vomiting, constipation, and abdominal pain
  • Seizures
  • Pica disorder
  • Premature birth, low birth weight, slow growth (for babies exposed to lead before birth)

 

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning to Adults

Symptoms are less severe in adults, but lead accumulates over time and causes significant health problems. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Headaches, memory difficulties, mood disorders
  • Miscarriages, stillbirth, premature birth
  • Reduced or abnormal sperm
  • Kidney dysfunction

(Hauptman, Bruccoleri, Woolf. 2017; Riva, Lafranconi, D’Orso, Cesana, 2012).

 

Legal Action Against Lead exposure at Gopher Resource

If you or people you know have experienced lead exposure symptoms due to the negligence of  Gopher Resource or any other similar incident, legal action in the form of a lawsuit is required for compensation. This compensation may be obtained in two ways:

  1. You may be entitled to settlement due to lead poisoning. This occurs when the defendant (in this case Gopher Resource) gives you a financial offer before the issue of Court proceedings. If you accept, the case is not tried in court. The financial offer may vary depending on the severity of your symptoms, members who have been exposed (take-home exposure), and your subsequent health status.
  2. If the defendant does not make a financial offer, the case goes to court, and your legal team tries it before a judge and jury. They are the responsible parties to render a verdict vis-a-vis your lead poisoning lawsuit.

 

Contact Our Lead Poisoning Expert Legal Team

If you or people you know -including family, friends, and colleagues- have worked at the Gopher Resource Lead Smelting Plant in Tampa, FL, or got lead exposure at Gopher, or experienced symptoms of lead poisoning because of your employment or take-home exposure, you may be entitled to compensation.

 

Seek legal consultation today from our lead poisoning expert legal team and pursue compensation through a Gopher Resource lawsuit. Our legal team is thorough and has helped many people find justice over the years.