Eight Employees File Suit Against Hartwell Tenneco Plant

November 15, 2012

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia


Attorneys for eight employees have filed a personal injury lawsuit against Tenneco, Inc., Hart County’s largest employer.

In the suit filed late Tuesday afternoon, the workers claim Tenneco failed to adequately protect them from the chemical hexavalent chromium, according to their attorney, Drew Hill.

“Our clients are alleging they were exposed to hexavalent chromium, which is used in the Hartwell plant in the manufacture of shock absorbers,” said Drew Hill, the attorney representing the workers.

Hexavalent Chromium is a dangerous chemical known to cause cancer and other respiratory problems after long-term exposure.

Hill said the eight employees he’s representing have been experiencing a number of health problems.

“We’re just getting started in the litigation, but there are various injuries, such as nasal injuries and respiratory injuries from exposure to the chemical,” Hill said Tuesday.

According to the complaint, the two plating machines at Tenneco use hexavalent chromium in the plating process.

The plating machines are equipped with air scrubbers and ventilators, but the lawsuit claims the company that installed the hood ventilators and scrubbers, Atotech, USA did not put them in correctly.

The Hart County Tenneco plant has been fined twice in the last two years by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration for its failure to adequately protect its employees from exposure to hexavalent chromium.

Mike Alzamora is a spokesperson for Tenneco. Alzamora said the company has not yet seen a copy of the suit.

“Honestly the first I heard of it was your message,” Alzamora said late Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t have any information for you at this point. At this point, I don’t know anything.”

The employees are seeking unspecified monetary damages. The company has 30 days to respond to the complaint.