Seattle police officer files $10M claim against city for ‘toxin’ exposure while cleaning homeless camp

SEATTLE – A Seattle police officer filed a $10 million claim against the city Wednesday, alleging that he was exposed to an “extremely dangerous man-made toxin” when he was assigned to clean up a homeless camp in the industrial SoDo neighborhood in January.

Officer Timothy Gifford, a former member of the city’s Navigation Team tasked with helping remove unsanctioned homeless camps, claims he was exposed to high concentrations of the toxic chemical compounds polychlorinated biphenyls, (PCBs) that were once widely used in electrical equipment such as capacitors and transformers, reported The Seattle Times.

Gifford says the exposure worsened a lifelong liver condition, causing him to be diagnosed with early-onset Type 2 diabetes.

An attorney for the Seattle police officer said aside from the liver condition, Gifford has been in generally good health.

“The exposure to these toxins damaged his already susceptible liver even further,” his lawyer said, according to The Times. “Now, he faces ongoing medical care.”

City records and officials have acknowledged the homeless-encampment removal occurred, and separately, that the city-owned industrial lot where the camp stood was later found to be contaminated, requiring ongoing environmental remediation. Spokespeople for Seattle Public Utilities and the city’s Homelessness Emergency Response project also addressed questions posed by The Times this week, saying the city has since notified dozens of its workers about their potential exposure to PCBs.

A spokesperson for the city said they don’t comment on active claims.

(Feature image: Max Pixel)


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