Meeting held over cancer concerns near Avalon Park-area power plant

Suit claims chemicals from coal are making people sick

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Nearly 200 people packed a hotel ballroom near the University of Central Florida on Tuesday night to learn more about a lawsuit claiming dangerous chemicals are coming from a nearby power plant.

In December, a handful of residents from the Stoneybook and Eastwood subdivisions near Avalon Park filed a lawsuit against Orlando Utilities Commission, developers and a home builder.

They claimed the chemicals coming from burned coal at the Stanton Energy Center was contaminating the soil where their children played, and they feared it was making them ill.

"What we found was very concerning to us," said attorney Ted Leopold, who filed the original lawsuit in December.

He told the crowded room of concerned neighbors his investigators had found high levels of chemicals in the soil, and he said they traced it back to the coal dust coming from Stanton.

"We concluded that there was a very high incidence of sickness, illnesses and potential cancer contamination in and around the area of the facility," he said.

Many had questions about the types of cancer that were being reported, and how long a lawsuit would take to see any results.

Orlando Utilities Commission officials said they don't buy the allegations.

"OUC understands the concern these allegations may be causing in our community and recognizes that residents likely have many questions," a spokesman for the utility said. "We take these concerns very seriously, and it is important for the community to know that we strongly disagree with these allegations and plan to vigorously defend OUC and the environmental record of Stanton Energy Center. However, because of the pending litigation, we are unable to discuss the allegations in further detail at this time."

Both OUC and the attorneys suing them have set up websites outlining their arguments.

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