KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Eastman Chemical Company faces a class-action lawsuit following the Jan. 31 “steam pipe failure” at the company’s Kingsport plant, which injured five workers and caused debris possibly containing asbestos to rain down in a nearby neighborhood.
The lawsuit filed by Knoxville-based firm Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman accuses Eastman of trespass, negligence, and being a public and private nuisance. It claims Eastman “engaged in ultra-hazardous activities by transporting high pressure steam under unsafe condition through an asbestos-lined steam line.”
The lawsuit also claims the company failed to warn nearby residents in a timely manner about the “dangers of contaminants released by the steam line explosion.”
On the day of the incident, Eastman did not release a public statement until nearly an hour and a half after the steam line failure happened. Since then, the company has said that it did not ask city officials to send an alert to residents because it did not see the potential for off-site impact until hours after the incident.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Sharon Weatherly, owns a home in the area where the debris fell. The lawsuit claims that Weatherly’s neighborhood and much of Kingsport will be negatively impacted by the incident.
Eastman has said it does not believe anyone was exposed to a harmful level of asbestos.
The lawsuit seeks class action status — meaning that others who live nearby could join the lawsuit as plaintiffs.
News Channel 11 has reached out to Eastman for comment regarding the lawsuit Monday night.
On Tuesday morning, an Eastman spokesperson released the following statement from the chemical company:
We cannot comment on pending legal matters at this time. We do, however, remain committed to working with our community through this situation to the best extent possible.Eastman Chemical Company