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Single Mom Pulls Erin Brockovich After Kids Fall Ill from Toxic Water Supply

Posted May 18 2009 12:02am

In Illinois, Tricia Krause isn’t the most popular mom in the neighborhood. But she couldn’t care less. She’s fighting against the town of Crestwood, claiming its water made her family ill.

The single mom of 3 has 2 kids with health problems and a small business to run. Her son had leukemia and her daughter had a brain tumor. She’s got her hands full, but she’s still fighting against her former hometown, where all three kids were born.

I’m so sad and angry and disappointed about this.

The Chicago Tribune reported on the Crestwood problem just the day before Earth Day. Their story claims that the village, population 11,000, served residents tainted water for 20 years. While Crestwood officials boasted that they had the cheapest water in the county–”Good to taste but not to waste!”– they were giving residents a “taste” of carcinogens.

Krause says her kids were directly affected by the cost-saving measures. She’s now suing the city of Crestwood.

This isn’t some case of pointing fingers, either. Krause scoured records for years, searching for a cause to what she saw around her: a sea of cancer patients (400 of the city residents).

On a tip, she requested documents for water ledgers, logs and other documents related to the Crestwood’s well. That proved to be the source of the problem, and she passed her findings on to the Chicago Tribune.

Crestwood was supposed to be getting the tap water for residents from Lake Michigan. Why? The local well was contaminated with dangerous chemicals related to a dry-cleaning solvent. Crestwood officials were made aware of this 24 years ago, and pledged to avoid the well unless absolutely necessary.

They didn’t. According to the Trib:

State officials haven’t tried to answer that difficult question but say the risks were minimal because the well water was heavily diluted with treated lake water.
However, it generally isn’t acceptable to rely on dilution to ensure water is safe to drink. One of the chemicals found in Crestwood’s well, vinyl chloride, is so toxic that the U.S. EPA says there is no safe level of exposure.

Krause is angry about the whole mess of it, and no longer lives in Crestwood. The good news? Her children, now almost grown, are healthy, and very proud of their mother. Her daughter, Brianne, said

I’m proud of her and what she’s managed to do. It’s just one voice, you know?

Her fight can give us all a bit of hope, can’t it?

Image: tripleigrek on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

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