On Tuesday Stephen Colbert, the Comedy Central "news commentator" railed against a lake city man who filed a lawsuit saying that the city of Seattle must conduct an environmental review prior to it’s Fourth of July fire works show at the city’s Gas Works Park.

Gas Works…ummm… Park? The area is a partially remediated toxic waste site.

At the Heart of the lawsuit are concerns that the thousands of people present at the show could kick loose or otherwise compromise the protective layer of clean soil capping the heavily benzene laden soil below, exposing the public to the the known carcinogen.

A lawsuit attempting to prohibit fire works on the Fourth of July is of course fair game for Colbert’s writers, but the lawsuit guy has a point, even if he is a party pooper. Benzene exposure can lead to a number of blood disorders like aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, as well as several types of leukemia including acute myeloid leukemia, and acute lymphocytic leukemia.

While the lawsuit may be great fodder for the late night TV crowd, it has some valid points. Soil and groundwater that are heavily contaminated with benzene tend to release fumes above ground into the air. Abandoned gas plants tend to be some of the most benzene contaminated sites on earth, and should be avoided.  

Colbert, of course, tends to disagree:

"I say an abandoned gas plant is the perfect place to shoot off fireworks. The pyrotechnics could last for weeks. Plus, thanks to the underground plumes of carcinogenic benzene, you don’t have to bring pot."

Benzene Leukemia Law Blog wishes you a happy Fourth of July!

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