Baxter International Inc. (NYSE: BAX) found itself embroiled in a $50 million lawsuit filed by a Puerto Rican family who claimed that the medical giant’s warehouse contaminated the land with radioactive cobalt and other hazardous materials.
The Serracante family leased 12 acres in Aibonito, Puerto Rico to Baxter from 1987 to 2005 for use as warehouse space. Baxter cancelled the contract, after which the family claims tests of the groundwater under the area revealed contamination.
"They were supposed to give [the land] back to my clients in the condition they gave it to them, free of contaminants," the family’s lawyer, John Nevares, told the Associated Press. "The Serracantes cannot do anything with this property … with those contaminants at those levels. The property is useless."
The lawsuit accuses Baxter of releasing contaminated wastewater from a chemical lab on the property, where the company made tubes and connectors for IV systems.
"We believe that the plaintiff’s allegations are inaccurate and unfounded, and that the suit is without merit," Baxter spokeswoman Deborah Spak told the wire service.
Baxter has had some contamination snafus related to its Aibonito plant in the past, including a $15,000 fine in 2008 from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for failing to properly test irrigation equipment and a $44,000 fine in 2004 for violations including failure to protect employes from radiation exposure.