Officer sues Seattle claiming toxic chemicals sickened him

January 9, 2020 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle police officer who claims he has suffered health problems since being exposed to toxic chemicals during the cleanup of a homeless camp in Sodo last year has sued the city.

The Seattle Times reports Officer Timothy Gifford contends in a lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court on Jan. 3 that he was exposed to high concentrations of toxic PCBs while he worked on a city Navigation Team to remove an unsanctioned homeless encampment in the Sodo neighborhood on Jan. 8, 2019.

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) months later discovered high levels of PCB contamination on the city-owned site where the camp was located. In July, SPU consulted launched remediation of the property.

By then, Gifford contends he already was “feeling inexplicably ill” and later was diagnosed with early onset Type II diabetes. Gifford filed a workman’s compensation claim but the city denied it, his suit states.

His complaint incorporates internal city documents showing the city notified as many as 58 other city employees who may have been exposed to unsafe PCB levels at the former camp site.

Dan Nolte, a spokesman for City Attorney Pete Holmes, said in an email Thursday: “Our office intends to investigate the claims brought in this lawsuit and defend the City in this matter.”