ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WENY) - A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of owners and residents within the Houghton Plot neighborhood of Corning in federal court.
Corning Incorporated, Corning Homes, Inc. and John Does are all named as defendants in the suit. According to Knauf Shaw LLP, the firm representing Houghton Plot residents, the neighborhood was previously used by Corning Incorporated to dump ash and other wastes. The complaint alleges damages from "decreased property values, loss of the reasonable use and enjoyment of property and quality of life, nuisance, negligence, strict liability, and response costs under the federal Superfund Law (CERCLA)."
The suit is seeking a full remediation of the neighborhood.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has required Corning to investigate and remediate the neighborhood but leave in place most contamination that is under two feet below ground surface. According to the lawyers filing the suit, no remediation efforts have been taken in the neighborhood. The suit also claims the "Value Assurance Program" being offered by Corning doesn't provide compensation to owners who do not sell their homes, has many restrictions, and requires a liability release.
Lawyers say residents of Houghton Plot have organized a citizen's group, Houghton Plot, Inc. to provide a unified voice regarding the contamination and environmental issues.
Contamination was first discovered in the area during excavation work being done at Corning High School in 2012. The DEC later expanded the testing area to the surrounding neighborhoods in 2014, and then again expanded to include the entire Houghton Plot area.
In a statement, Corning Incorporated said it "does not comment on pending litigation." But in this case, the company says "we believe it would be a disservice to our neighbors if we didn’t respond to the inaccurate assertions and misstatements."
The statement goes on to say:
"The Company intends to vigorously defend against the claims asserted in this lawsuit.
We have worked diligently with the NYSDEC and with the residents of the Study Area and have performed NYSDEC-approved work as quickly and efficiently as possible, while minimizing disruption in the neighborhood.
Corning has conducted work in the Study Area under a state-approved process and will do the same for future remediation work, where required. Corning has met all schedules and deadlines with NYSDEC for soil testing and remediation activities.
As a result of our work and the cooperation of the residential property owners in the Study Area, the NYSDEC has already issued "No Further Action Letters" to 125 property owners."
Houghton Cleanup Begins, Residents Still Have Questions - June 28, 2017
NYS DEC Study Area Information: https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/97180.html