Dragon residents to sue

Dragon residents to sue
Published: 30 March 2005

People who live near the 123-acre Dragon Products plant on the Rockland-Thomaston line in Maine, USA, have sued the cement manufacturer in federal court, alleging that errant dust is harming their health. The citizen organization Neighbors for a Safe Dragon and a Thomaston family who lives next door to the cement plant say they want the company to take measures to control cement kiln dust. "We don’t want to shut down Dragon," their attorney, David McConnell of Portland, said Monday.

In the lawsuit, filed Friday in US District Court in Portland, the Neighbors group and the Cross family say they want Dragon to contain the dust coming from a 12-acre clinker pile and a 15-acre cement-kiln dust pile. The lawsuit names Daniel and Rachel Cross and their children Shane, Logan and Makayla Cross, as plaintiffs.

The lawsuit filed Friday alleges that blasting from Dragon’s quarry has cracked foundations and windows in the Crosses’ home and that corrosive dust from the waste piles and other operations is blowing onto nearby homes and businesses, leaching into groundwater and running off into surface water. Cars and other property are damaged by the corrosive dust, vegetation around the plant is dying, and plaintiffs have suffered from numerous health problems attributable to Dragon’s dust, the suit alleges.

Some time ago, Dragon attempted to talk with the citizen group. He said it was not interested in discussions. Allegations that the cement kiln dust pile has increased in size are inaccurate, Veysey said. Since 1997, when a dust recovery system was installed, "we’ve been depleting the pile, not adding to it," he said. Dragon is reclaiming those piles by burning the material in its new dry process of making cement, he said.

The lawsuit filed by the Crosses and 107 Neighbors members claims Dragon has violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. "Dragon has dragged its feet for a decade, and the [Maine Department of Environmental Protection] has been content to let them slide," said Ron Huber, president of the Neighbors group, in a prepared statement. "It’s time to make Dragon end its pollution problem by capping its waste piles."