Precision Castparts Corp. has agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit over air pollution coming from its metal parts manufacturing facility in Southeast Portland.
Last week, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge gave preliminary approval to the settlement, which stems from allegations that the metal casting facility emitted toxic metals and polluted nearby homes.
The settlement includes $7.7 million the company already spent on air pollution controls to reduce the amount of nickel and other pollutants being released from Precision Castparts’ operations.
The company has also spent more than $300,000 on air monitoring equipment to test for pollution in the surrounding neighborhood and will be required to install nearly $2 million in additional pollution controls at its facilities pending an additional court approval.
Matthew Preusch, an attorney representing some of the company’s neighbors in the class action lawsuit, said it’s the largest environmental class action settlement in Oregon history.
“It’s going to result in meaningful air quality improvements for all the people in Southeast Portland,” Preusch said. “We are proud that after years of hard-fought litigation we have been able to reach a very excellent outcome.”
Preusch also represented plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against Bullseye Glass, a glass manufacturer that was connected to toxic metal air pollution. Bullseye Glass settled that case for $6.5 million. Both cases emerged out of a 2016 U.S. Forest Service study of moss that revealed previously unknown levels of toxic metals in Southeast Portland’s air.
Based on the outcome of that case, Preusch estimates residents affected by Precision Castparts pollution will receive about $3,500 apiece. A $12.5 million settlement fund will pay for attorneys, and the remainder of the money will be divided among residents who lived in the area affected by pollution from the facility. The amount that each person receives will depend on how many people file claims. Claims or challenges to the settlement must be filed by April 9.
Information is being distributed this week to about 6,000 Southeast Portland households that are eligible to file a claim for damages in the case. Residents can find information about eligibility on the website www.structuralssettlement.com, which also includes court documents and maps of the residential area affected by the case.
In a statement, Precision Castparts said the settlement will allow the company “to resolve costly, long-term litigation.” The company manufactures metal parts for airplanes and other industrial products.
“As always, we will remain in compliance with our air regulatory permits and will continue to invest in strong emission control technology as part of our commitment to the environment and our community,” the company said.