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Lawsuit: 1,000 acres of mixed-use development exposed to unsafe radiation levels

Communities developed on former phosphate mines
Posted at 4:31 AM, Mar 16, 2017

A Lakeland man's federal lawsuit alleges thousands of people are in danger of radioactivity, living in communities developed on top of former phosphate mines.

Jeff Jerue filed the lawsuit last week against Alabama-based Drummond Company on behalf of property owners of the Oakbridge and Grasslands developments.

According to Jerue, the picturesque neighborhood he grew to love is now harboring a hidden health threat.

"Sitting here thinking about invisible gases that's exposing you to possibility of getting cancer," said Jerue.

The lawsuit claims thousands of residents are "exposed to hazardous substances, including radon and gamma radiation."

The documents allege that Drummond Co. knew about the potential health risks after developing two communities on land that it once used for phosphate mining operations in the late 1970s.

Home development began in the early 1980s. Today the area has between 1,200 and 1,500 homes.

"My biggest fear is that as of today, my house tanked," said Katherine James, who lives down the street in Oakbridge. "It's worth nothing."

James told ABC Action News Wednesday that she plans to join the class-action lawsuit.

Since moving in two years ago, she says her doctor has removed 5 squamous cancer cells. She believes it's all connected.

"What would be fair," asked ABC Action News. "For them to buy my home for what it's valued at currently today with all of the upgrades that were done to it after I purchased it," said James.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for economic losses, cleanup of the properties and medical monitoring. 

"How much of this stuff have they been exposed to," asked Jerue.  "What happens if they get sick? Who's responsible for that? It's just gotta be fair."

Jerue says that several tests conducted on his property showed elevated levels of radiation. 

No one from Drummond Co. returned our calls or sent a comment after our attempts to get their take on the lawsuit.

Drummond Co. has thirty days to respond to the lawsuit.