June 3, 2021: Gopher Resource, the lead battery recycling firm in Florida undergoing an inspection by the local Occupational Health and Safety Administration, was taken to court on June 2 by the family of a former worker who claim their son’s disabilities are a result of his father’s exposure to lead dust.
Ko Brown, who worked at the plant, alleges that Gopher failed to prevent him from carrying toxic dust home and exposing his son, Colin, to the poison when he was an infant and had lead recorded in his blood.
The lawsuit maintains that Colin has suffered disability and emotional distress.
Gopher, which at the time of going to press had not responded to BESB’s requests for comment, denies claims made by local media that damning levels of harmful lead contamination has been found in the blood of its workers.
When the OSHA inspection was begun in April, Gopher was fully supportive, saying it had spent more than $230 million on making the facility safe.
Average blood lead levels among staff, it said, were actually half what they were when Gopher bought the plant in 2006.
“Protecting our Tampa employees and the surrounding community is a core value of Gopher Resources and its workforce,” the company said.
“Since 2006, we have invested more than $230 million to modernize the Tampa facility, which included installation of state-of-the-art pollution control, and health and safety measures including filtration and ventilation. The standards we hold ourselves to are more stringent than regulatory standards.”