Carson Valley water pollution case goes to trial
MINDEN – A monthlong trial has been scheduled – for March 2006 – on a claim by Settelmeyer Ranches Inc. that Bently Nevada Corp. dumped toxic solvents and other contaminants that got into groundwater under Settelmeyer land in the Carson Valley.
Attorney Tom Drendel, representing the Settelmeyers, filed suit in January 2003, alleging that Bently has stored and disposed of various types of toxic solvents and wastewater sludge at a manufacturing site near the Douglas County airport and Settelmeyer land since 1961.
The lawsuit also alleges that several spills or discharges of TCE, a degreasing solvent that’s considered “a probable human carcinogen,” occurred at the Bently site between 1961 and 1986, and the state Division of Environmental Protection sued Bently over the contamination.
Drendel also claimed that water samples taken from Settelmeyer Ranch wells revealed evidence of TCE and other solvent contamination, and additional testing showed evidence of a plume of contaminants extending from the Bently property to the ranch land.
Because of the contamination, groundwater under the Settelmeyer land can’t be used for drinking or even for irrigation, the lawsuit alleges.
Attorney Bill Shaw, representing Bently, now known as Bently Pressurized Bearing Co., filed a response last May to the complaint denying the allegations and contending that the Settelmeyers waited too long to bring their claims.
Shaw also said the Settelmeyers have been aware of the alleged contamination since at least 1991 and are “contributorily negligent” because they’ve continued to use water sources they allege to be tainted.
The lawyer also said that if any contaminants were dumped, it was done by someone else not named in the lawsuit “over whom defendants (Bently) exercised no control.”
District Judge Michael Gibbons scheduled the trial to start March 21, 2006. A court spokesman said Wednesday that attorneys involved in the case needed a four-week time slot.