Martha Reclamation Program: Dump and Run

Toxic Soup: Ashland's Radioactive Sludge Pits

Toxic Soup: Radiation at Blaine Elementary School

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ashland: How do you clean up a sludge pit? Dump it in the creek!

In the Cantrell v. Ashland case the plaintiffs tried to get a videotape admitted as evidence that showed Ashland’s contractors on November 12, 1996 intentionally pumping contaminated water and oil from a sludge pit into Blaine Creek, a public waterway that discharges into nearby Yatesville LakeAshland was literally caught on tape.  We don’t have a copy of the actual tape, but we do have an “artist’s interpretation” depicting the events of November 12, 1996 for your entertainment.

The lower court disallowed the videotape and the accompanying testimony of the cameraman as evidence for the following reasons:

  1. The court viewed the conduct on the videotape as a remedial measure for the contamination.  So let me get this straight… removing the radioactive waste from a sludge pit and dumping it into a public waterway is a standard remedial measure?  On what planet?  The videotape shows a clear example of the problem, not the remedy.
  2. Ashland’s pollution of Blaine Creek was activity on other property, not the plaintiff’s property.  Here we go again.
  3. The court viewed the tape as unfairly prejudicial toward Ashland.  Never mind that it merely shows what happened: Ashland pumping radioactive waste into the creek.
  4. Finally, seizing on the plaintiff’s statement that the tape depicted a criminal act, the court stated, “Well then, you’re in the wrong Court right now, then.  You ought to be in criminal court.”  Since when is criminal evidence not admissible in a civil case?  Ask O.J. Simpson.

Needless to say, if the court won’t admit this type of evidence, the plaintiffs are fighting an uphill battle against Ashland and the courts.  What kind of message does this send to landowners in oil and gas country?

Ashland, clean up your mess!

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