Plans for a large-scale cleanup of Rhode Island homes contaminated with lead paint can move forward, a judge ruled this week, denying a request by manufacturers who lost a landmark lawsuit to delay the process.
A jury verdict last year requires three former lead paint makers — Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries, Inc., and Millennium Holdings LLC — to clean up homes containing the toxic substance. The process has been estimated to cost billions of dollars.
The cleanup has not begun and it’s still unclear exactly what the companies will be forced to do to deal with lead paint hazards.
The defendants had asked Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein to put the entire process on hold until the Rhode Island Supreme Court rules on their appeal. But the judge denied that request Tuesday, saying he believed the companies did not have a good chance of getting the verdict overturned.
Silverstein has asked both sides to recommend experts, or special masters, who could help him in devising an abatement plan. The state two weeks ago recommended a single person, while the defendants suggested a panel of experts drawn from different disciplines.
Silverstein has said he will ultimately decide whom to select as the special master.
A jury in February 2006 found the companies liable for creating a public nuisance by manufacturing and selling a toxic product. A fourth defendant, Atlantic Richfield Co., was found not responsible.
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