Airport Workers Seek Criminal Probe Over “Poisoned Water Jugs”

They're asking District Attorney Seth Williams to investigate American Airlines.

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On Thursday afternoon, dozens of Philadelphia International Airport workers and their families turned up at the office of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams to ask that he mount an official investigation into troubling allegations over drinking water at the airport.

Their request stems from a lawsuit that the employees filed against American Airlines and others in 2015, alleging that the airline refilled empty Deer Park Water jugs with toxic chemicals and eventually returned them to Deer Park to have them refilled with drinking water once the chemicals had been used.

The employees claim that this went on for at least five years and that employees and the general public at the airport were exposed to the drinking water in thousands of tainted jugs. According to the employees, the jugs were used to hold a toxic toilet deodorant that was dumped into toilets on planes at the airport. Normally, this deodorant would be pumped into the plane from the outside, but the employees claim that the intake valves on some of the planes were broken and that this was the workaround put in place by management.

In addition to sought charges of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, the employees are asking Williams to also consider charges of criminal homicide and involuntary manslaughter if any of the employees die from cancer. Several employees have been diagnosed with cancer, and the lawsuit seeks to connect those diagnoses with the chemicals in the Deer Park water jugs.

The lawsuit describes the practice of refilling the Deer Park water jugs as a “hush-hush secret operation.”

“My clients are prepared to cooperate with your office and to provide any testimony, evidence, or information required,” wrote attorney Brian Mildenberg in a letter to Williams. “My clients are understandably very concerned and seek justice against their employer, the world’s largest airline, a billion dollar corporation, for seeking profit over safety and disregarding the risks to employees and the public concerning the alleged practices.”

Last year, American Airlines told NBC 10 that the airline was investigating and had suspended its water delivery service in the meantime.

When reached on Thursday morning, American Airlines spokesperson Victoria Lupica said she was unaware of this latest development and could not offer immediate comment.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.