Contaminated Oklahoma Well Water Causing Serious Thyroid Complications

August 9, 2011

Water contamination lawyers at Pintas & Mullins are warning of serious thyroid dangers associated with a toxic substance found in at least 18 drinking water wells in Duncan, Oklahoma. We have already heard from a number of injured victims experiencing thyroid problems as a result of drinking contaminated water, and we remain committed to pursuing environmental litigation on behalf of those harmed.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Halliburton Co. recently confirmed the presence of perchlorate found in samples taken from nearly twenty water wells around its former headquarters on the North side of Duncan. Halliburton admits that company officials burnt missile fuel in the area as part of a government contract, and this work likely contributed to the contamination. Although the project ended approximately 20 years ago, it still poses a health hazard for nearby residents who continue to experience devastating health complications.

Studies confirmed that ingesting even a small amount of the toxin perchlorate can have harmful effects on the thyroid. This dangerous chemical is a byproduct of rocket fuel that inhibits the thyroid's ability to absorb iodine, resulting in a condition known as hypothyroidism. Heart disease, weight gain, depression, and infertility can all result from too much perchlorate exposure.

Women who drank perchlorate-contaminated water while pregnant are particularly vulnerable to serious side effects. Pregnancy already puts a serious strain on the thyroid, and additional strain can lead to developmental or cognitive problems in a fetus. Research shows that even a slight decline in the thyroid hormone negatively affects intelligence levels, and babies exposed to perchlorate have a 50 percent change of developing thyroid problems.

People with pre-existing thyroid conditions face greater risk of experiencing perchlorate-related health problems. The hazardous chemical is colorless and odorless, making it highly possible that people drank severely contaminated water without realizing it. Although Halliburton moved its headquarters to Houston and Dubai, the threat remains in Oklahoma where the contaminated wells were found.

Now that the tests have positively confirmed the contamination, Halliburton is working with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and supplying residents with bottled drinking water. The AP is also reporting that the company promised to reimburse residents for the cost of health screenings.

Unfortunately, Halliburton failed to implement corrective measures quickly enough to avoid public harm. For many residents, the damage has already been done, and it is too late to avoid health problems related to the presence of perchlorate in their drinking water. The lives of these innocent people were jeopardized by an environmental health hazard that contaminated their water supply and continues to pose a serious health threat. A long-term solution has yet to be identified, and more and more people are experiencing perchlorate-related thyroid problems every day.

We know that thyroid problems can negatively impact the lives of all people, particularly pregnant women and their fetuses. The toxin perchlorate interferes with the metabolic process, mental function, and the body's ability to absorb iodine from the bloodstream. Many people in the Duncan community relied on underground wells for drinking water and personal use, and their rights were violated by the presence of a hazardous chemical substance. We will continue investigating water contamination claims on behalf of those who were harmed.