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Seattle police officer assigned to clean up homeless camps files $10 million claim, alleges polluted site made him sick

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THE SEATTLE TIMES:

A Seattle police officer filed a $10 million claim against the city on Wednesday, alleging it negligently exposed him to “an extremely dangerous man-made toxin” by assigning him and dozens of other city workers to clean up a homeless encampment in the Sodo neighborhood this year.

Officer Timothy Gifford, a former member of the city’s Navigation Team tasked with helping remove unsanctioned homeless camps, contends he was exposed to high concentrations of the toxic chemical compounds polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) during the Jan. 8 cleanup of the camp in a gravel lot along Denver Avenue South near First Avenue South.

As a result of the alleged exposure, Gifford claims, he has been diagnosed with early onset Type 2 diabetes and now generally suffers from poor health. The 5-foot-6, 159-pound officer previously had been in good physical health, managing a lifelong liver condition during his more than seven years in police work, said his attorney, Lincoln Beauregard.

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

A spokesperson for the city’s Finances and Administration Department, which handles tort claims, said Wednesday the department doesn’t comment on active claims or lawsuits.

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