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Bethany sues companies over contaminated water

BETHANY, Okla. - City leaders have filed a lawsuit against two companies it says caused, "significant injury and damages" by contaminating the groundwater.

Bethany is taking Rockwell Automation Inc. and Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation to U.S. District Court, accusing them of allowing cancer-causing chemicals to seep into the ground.

The chemicals, including Trichloroethene and Tetrachloroethene, were commonly used in the aircraft manufacturing industry, the lawsuit states, including for coating and cleaning parts when the companies occupied space across the street from Wiley Post Airport.

Bethany alleges the companies knew about the groundwater contamination as late as 2008, but the city didn't find out until 2012.

Since then, the city says it has closed several wells, sending that water instead for treatment at its wastewater facilities. The closed wells have strained Bethany's water supply, according to the lawsuit, causing the city to buy from Oklahoma City.

That's not to mention the costs, which the lawsuit estimates at more than $1 million, of purchasing the water, monitoring and testing ground water and maintaining treatment facilities.

Attorneys for the city say they have been trying to work things out with the companies for months, without much help.

Calls and emails to Rockwell and Gulfstream were not returned Friday.

Now, the city wants the companies to remove the pollution and pay back the accrued costs for its "reckless disregard for the rights of others, including Bethany."

"We’ve just been totally concerned the last two or three years," said John Denner, who can look out his window to see regular tests of the groundwater. "When they’re testing so much with the frequency, it’s probably not a good sign."

His tap water appears normal and clear, but Denner says it tastes a little off.

"It’s just really scary about what we’re doing over here," he said. "The most basic thing in life is having good clean water and we’ve come to expect that in the modern world and then to find out people don’t really care too much is really discouraging."