Internet Resource Sites
"A Civil Action" is a book by Jonanthan Harr, and
subsequent Hollywood movie of the same name, which documents a
court trial in Woburn, Massachusetts. W.R. Grace Company and several
other companies were accused of contaminating the drinking water,
which in turn lead to a cluster of leukemia cancers. In this case
study, we will look at a series of documents about the trial,
subsequent studies, and the EPA Superfund Cleanup to determine
the answer to the main debate question. After researching the
the original trial and subsequent studies, you will be the jury
for the retrial of this case. There are many documents in this
case study, since it will be quite time consuming to read all
of them, each student will concentrate on one or more and summarize
the main points for the other students. Then the other students
can read the summaries for the their decision about the trial.
DEBATE OR TRIAL QUESTION:
DID TRICHLOROETHYLENE OR ANY CHEMICALS IN GROUND WATER FROM W.R. GRACE COMPANY CAUSE A CLUSTER OF LEUKEMIA DEATHS IN WOBURN, MASS.?
Each student should read at least the summary of A Civil Action to get an overall view of the original trial.
Round one - Summarization of the Evidence (4 points):
Then each student will be assigned ONCE to research a particular aspect of the case and post a summary of the findings. See the table below for the assignments, brief questions to consider, and links to the Discussion Board. These assignments should be completed as soon as possible in the first few days of the week of the issue discussion.
Round two - Analysis of Evidence and Vote on the Question/Verdict
After the evidence has been posted, each student should go back and read what the other students have written, analyze the evidence, and write 4-6 paragraphs of analysis in support of your answer to the main question. Look at the question carefully as it is phrased as in the original trial - does the fault lie with chemicals from the W.R. Grace Company? Do the chemicals in question cause leukemia? Put whether you are voting YES or NO at the beginning of your discussion posting.
Round three - Response: (1 Point):
Write responses to add additional comments and try to change opinions. The objective is to reach a verdict that everyone agrees with - if that is possible.
Please read the discussion responses before you decide which questions to answer. Try to answer questions that no one else has answered or respond to answers already present.
Blackboard - Discussion Pages
and then copy and paste into Blackboard
Research the Answer to Questions
Ques. 1a. Student # 1: Briefly summarize the history of chemical contamination at Woburn and list several of the chemicals found.
Student # 2:Research two of the chemicals to give name, use, and toxicity. Use links in box above to find info about the chemicals.
Std. ID. 1, 11, 21
Ques. 1b. Each student should research at two more of the chemicals to give name, use, and toxicity. Be sure to look at the following as these were named specifically in the trial:
trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene
(PERC) and 1,2-trans-dichloroethylene (DCE)
1,1,1-trichloroethane, or TCA; and chloroform.)
Use links in box above to find info about the chemicals.
You may want to look at hexavalent chromium as this was found in this case and is the subject of a recent movie "Erin Brockovich".
Std. ID. 2, 12, 22 Blackboard - Discussion Pages .
Research the Answer to Questions Ques. 2a: Briefly, what is the nature of the evidence for an increase in cancer rates in Woburn. Summarize some of the key points Std. ID. 3, 13, 23 Ques. 2b: What are the main conclusions of the leukemia childhood follow up study? What chemicals may be the cause? Consult the answers to Ques. 1b to find out if the toxicity data for these chemicals has been reported - if not post one or more of them. Std. ID. 4, 14, 24 Blackboard - Discussion Pages .
Research the Answer to Questions Ques. 3: Several students should work on summarizing various aspects of the trial. After the first summary, following students should fill in more details to the summary rather than just starting from scratch each time. Points to look for - What did they have to prove about the water from the wells? What proof was needed? What errors were made? What did the experts say? What evidence contradicted the facts that the chemicals came from W.R. Grace? Std. ID. 5, 15, 25 Blackboard - Discussion Pages .
Research the Answer to Questions Ques. 4: Summarize the trial and evidence from the point of view of W. R. Grace. What are the differences in the interpretation of the evidence? What evidence does Grace cite that points away from it as the cause of contamination in the wells? Std. ID. 6, 16, 26 Blackboard - Discussion Pages .
Research the Answer to Questions Ques. 5: What is the significance of the U. S. Geologic Survey study about the Aberjona River as a source of contamination of the well water? Also look for the relevant evidence and contention in the Trial Summary by Dan Kennedy. Std. ID. 7, 17, 27 Blackboard - Discussion Pages .
Research the Answer to Questions Ques. 6: What has or is being accomplished by the remediation of the Superfund sites? How are the problems of being corrected? what chemicals are being removed from the ground water? Std. ID. 8, 18, 28 Blackboard - Discussion Pages .
Research the Answer to Questions Ques. 7: As described in this article, what are the lessons to be learned from this case study? Std. ID. 9, 19, 29 Blackboard - Discussion Pages .
Research the Answer to Questions Ques. 8: Comment on the accuracy of the movie to actual events. What can be learned from this case? Std. ID. 10, 20, 30 Blackboard - Discussion Pages .
Round two: Determine the answer to the question as a jury might examine the evidence. Write 4-6 paragraphs in support of your answer.
Round three: Students should make responses to these conclusions or respond to any of the questions above.
Research the Answer to Questions
QUES. 9: TRIAL VERDICT
DID TRICHLOROETHYLENE IN GROUND WATER FROM W.R. GRACE COMPANY CAUSE A CLUSTER OF LEUKEMIA DEATHS IN WOBURN, MASS.?
ALL STUDENTS Blackboard - Discussion Pages .