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Burbank Residents Allege Health Threat from Disney’s Discharge

October 26, 2009

Last week, a federal judge denied a motion by the Walt Disney Company to dismiss lawsuits alleging that Disney for decades dumped contaminated, toxic waste water from its Burbank studios into a residential neighborhood and nearby park. The lawsuit contends that Disney dumped water tainted with cancer-causing chromium 6, also known as hexavalent chromium, for years after the EPA banned its use in cooling systems in 1990.

Residents in the Burbank area report deaths of pets and cancer and other illnesses suffered by several neighbors of the Disney studio. Reportedly the mouse effluent would discharge onto a residential street and drain into a neighborhood park known as a children’s playground and a recreation area for horse riders and dog walkers. One resident noted that “The water, without warning, would rush down (the street) like a flood. Water hopped the curb and flooded the streets for hours on end.”

Hexavalent chromium is the most toxic form of chromium, and can enter the body when people breathe air, eat food, or drink water containing it; it is also found in house dust and soil, which can be ingested or inhaled. It is known to cause cancer, particularly lung cancer, in humans, and animal studies have shown reproductive harm from exposures. The law firm of Girardi and Keese, known for its role in suing California utility PG&E for hexavalent chromium pollution in the Erin Brockovich case, last week joined the suit against Disney.

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