An East Tennessee federal judge has given several hundred workers a green light to move ahead with their lawsuit against the owners of Roane County’s TVA Kingston Fossil Fuel Power Plant. To date, at least 30 workers have died and 200 are nearing death from illnesses they contracted after cleaning up the site starting in Dec. 2008.

The workers that were hired to clean up the coal ash site only found out after they became ill that the California government contractor who owned the site purposely withheld information including test results from them. They showed that the levels of the toxins radium and arsenic were particularly high at this five cubic yard site.

Aside from site supervisors purposely skewing results by tampering with the monitoring devices, they also convinced the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow them to minimize the dangers of the toxins there. The signs in the area didn’t highlight the dangers and one worker even contends that he was told that it was safe to eat or drink as much as a pound of the coal ash there every day.

Workers weren’t provided with protective gear to minimize their risk of exposure to these toxins, even when prescribed by their doctors. Most workers worked around this waste for as long as 14 hours per day. At the end of their shift, they were simply given a brush and a bucket of water to clean themselves before heading home.

Illnesses that workers have developed and died of as a result of their work at the plant include leukemia, blood, brain and lung cancers, heart disease and respiratory infections.

While minor illnesses that start while you’re on the job may be easily treated, others may leave a lasting impact on your life. These can be the most difficult ones to cope with as they often leave you with costly medical bills and no ability to work so you can afford to pay. One of the first steps you should take after being hurt on the job is to reach out to a Knoxville workplace injuries attorney who can advise you of your right to compensation.