CALIFORNIA (Reuters) – California on Thursday filed a lawsuit against a silica-based product maker, saying it has been responsible for widespread silica emissions that have poisoned water, air and land in the state.
The state attorney general’s office said the company, Silica Technologies Inc, is responsible for nearly 200 deaths since 2003, mostly in Southern California.
The lawsuit filed in San Francisco by Attorney General Xavier Becerra accuses the company of creating an air pollution problem that has led to thousands of illnesses, including headaches, bronchitis, asthma and heart problems.
Silica, which also makes paint and cleaning products, has faced lawsuits from California and other states over pollution that has harmed human health and the environment.
The company says the pollution causes asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
Silicos air quality is monitored by the California Air Resources Board.
The suit also charges that Silica has failed to clean up its operations after silica is discharged into drinking water and lands.
Silicon Valley-based Silica also says it has not been subject to a mandatory air quality standard, as required by the federal Clean Air Act, for more than 20 years.
The company is based in Mountain View, California.
Silicas air quality program says it tests its products at the company’s plants on Long Beach, in Los Angeles County, and in Santa Clara, in San Jose.
California has long regulated silica manufacturing, but the program has been largely ignored in favor of other sources of pollution.
California’s state air board requires companies to test for the presence of silica in their air in the event of an accident.
In a statement, Silicos said it has worked hard to improve air quality and has met all requirements in compliance with California air pollution standards.
Silico said it will work with the state’s environmental protection agency to help remedy the damage.