Who is Joanne Branham and why is she involved in a complex and high stake environmental trial that began Monday in Philadelphia? The Branham case is the first of 31 related cases from picturesque McCollum Lake, in McHenry County, making their way through the Philadelphia court system.
The US government passed the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) in 1970 to help protect the environment from public and private actions such as corporate pollution. The Environmental Quality Improvement Act as well as the Environmental Education Act and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are other measures taken by the federal government to ensure protection of the environment, and the quality of water and air.
If all these agencies have been set up to protect our environment, and by association, us, why is Joanne in court? Her husband, Frank, was 63 when he died of a glioblastoma brain tumor in 2004. He was a longtime resident of McCollum Lake Village in Illinois. The lawsuit claims that a massive amount of contamination oozing into the groundwater from a chemical plant, Morton International Inc., about a mile from his home caused his cancer. (Dow Chemical, of Midland, Mich., bought the chemical plant in 2009 and assumed the environmental liabilities associated with it.)
It was that plant, according to plaintiff claims, that dumped toxic chemicals into an unlined retention pond between the early 1960s and late 1970s. The chemicals traveled to nearby McCollum Lake through a shallow aquifer and a deepwater aquifer.
Branham's attorney, Aaron Freiwald, says it's one of the largest brain-cancer-cluster litigations to reach trial yet. The Branham outcome could set the stage for the related McCollum Lake cases.
So, were these agencies put in place to protect us after the fact? In Frank Branham’s case, this trail is much too late to save his life, but why was his life ever placed in “alleged” danger?
Chemical plants produce toxic cleaners, solvents, and everyday household items that we place in our homes and expose ourselves and our families to. If we want clean water, air and soil we need to take responsible action to change our double standards.