Defense begins in perchlorate trial

San Jose
– The Olin Corp. began its defense of lawsuits claiming it
destroyed property values in San Martin with a witness who said the
company used

state-of-the-art

disposal methods to protect South County groundwater.
San Jose – The Olin Corp. began its defense of lawsuits claiming it destroyed property values in San Martin with a witness who said the company used “state-of-the-art” disposal methods to protect South County groundwater.

Neil Shifrin, president of a Massachusetts environmental consulting firm, told a federal jury Thursday that Olin’s practices of burying hazardous materials and pouring wastewater into evaporation ponds were consistent with contemporary industry standards and available technology.

“Today, we have a system of environmental regulation that simply didn’t exist in the 1950s, ’60’s, ’70s,” Shifrin said. “It might seem unfortunate today, but it’s what was done then.”

The jury earlier heard from four San Martin homeowners who say that the discovery of perchlorate in their well water has ruined their property values and caused untold psychological harm. A 9.5-mile perchlorate plume flowing south and east of Olin’s former road flare factory in southern Morgan Hill was discovered in 2003.

Also testifying were real estate experts who backed those claims, and a state official who detailed the history of Olin’s perchlorate contamination. Plaintiffs’ attorneys wrapped up two weeks of testimony Wednesday with their own expert who claimed Olin failed to act reasonably to prevent environmental degradation.

The defense is expected to call to the stand current and former Olin employees and a geologist. Closing arguments are tentatively scheduled for Aug. 15.

The four plaintiffs are part of a group of about 120 pressing their claims against Olin. Another group of about 160 plaintiffs making similar charges are settling their claims.

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