Attica Residents File Lawsuit Against Hillcrest Industries

October 10, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2012 at 8:06 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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October 10, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2012 at 8:06 PM EDT

VILLAGE OF ATTICA, N.Y (WKBW)

Attorney Richard Lippes confirms to Eyewitness News that a lawsuit has been filled in New York State Supreme Court of behalf of 100 residents against Hillcrest Industries in Attica.

For several months, a smoldering fire in a pile of recycled glass, plastic, and other materials has created a terrible smell and caused a public outcry, with many people saying the fumes ruined their health.

"I have to sit up because I feel like someone is standing on my chest because it hurts to breath," says resident Joe Gasbarrini, who is one of the plaintiffs in the case.

The EPA is currently overseeing an effort to extinguish the fire in the 40-foot high pile, but hotspots with temperatures as high as 750 degrees are slowing crews.

"As we excavate that, we get some flare-ups of organic matter. We have the water cannon and hoses on there constantly," added EPA coordinator Jeff Bechtel.

Pharmacists in the Attica area say the fire has caused a "horrendous" situation as countless numbers of people seek medicines and other remedies to deal with ailments they believe are caused by the Hillcrest fire.

"I've been going through Nyquil because you can smell it at night. You wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning. I go through cough syrup, cough drops, and I even have a bag {cough drops} in my purse," commented frustrated resident Bethany Hagen.

The lawyer representing the residents is also the same one that helped Love Canal residents.

Attorney Richard Lippes says the lawsuit against Hillcrest will seek punitive damages, money for future health problems, compensation for damages related to quality of life, and assurances that the problems will be cleaned up and monitoring set up to prevent another occurrence in the future.

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