Class Action Lawsuit Targets “Floc” Treatment Used in Coal Mines and Water Treatment Plants

In the settlement of a West Virginia class action suit, many coal treatment plants and water treatment plants in the state were required to pay $6.6 million to provide free medical examinations for workers in the plants.

The suit centered on the use of use of a certain type of water treatment chemical called polyacrylamide (often called “flocculent” or “floc”).  Many coal preparation plants in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and water treatment plants in West Virginia, used the chemical to separate solids from liquids.

The lawsuit claims that the chemical is toxic and that workers at these plants who were exposed to the chemical have a higher risk of getting serious diseases.  The Defendants, manufacturers and distributors of polyacrylamide, deny those claims and that they did anything wrong.  Both sides have agreed to settle the case to avoid the cost and burdens associated with ongoing litigation.

One of the largest uses for polyacrylamide is to flocculate  solids in a liquid. This process applies to is used in water treatment and in processes like paper making.

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