Schlage Lock

Colorado Springs, CO: (Sep-09-07) Nearly 3,000 residents joined a class action lawsuit against Schlage Lock, alleging that the company's use of PCE, a solvent used for degreasing metal parts, contaminated the water around the plant. The path of tainted groundwater runs southwest from Schlage Lock for about a mile, then turns south as it enters the Widefield aquifer, ending about 3½ miles later at the Willow Springs Ponds.

In a settlement reached in January 2007, the company agreed to a $5.9 million payout in legal bills for residents, but no damages were awarded to those who claimed they had suffered property value loss or health impacts from the pollution. In a recent announcement, the county said that it will spend $125,000 to spruce up the area, with a new bridge, picnic and barbecue facilities, paved roads, new lights and new signs. Up until then, for almost 10 years, fishing at the Willow Springs Pond No. 1 was banned because of high levels of PCE. The payout marks the end of a lengthy legal process. The money came from Schlage, which made a settlement in January with county officials, who agreed not to sue the company. Schlage has installed water aerators at pond No. 1, the larger one to the west, to reduce PCE concentrations. The smaller pond, No. 2, was not contaminated. According to Jerry Haile, the county's environmental services director, the pond last exceeded the PCE threshold set by the state in July 2003. The settlement required the company to pay $375,000, but $250,000 of that will pay the county's legal bills. [SCHLAGE GAZETTE: PCE CONTAMINATION]

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