BP Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Release of Benzene, Other Chemicals

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By: Staff Writers | Published: August 6th, 2010

A $10 billion toxic tort class action lawsuit has been filed against BP over alleged emissions from its troubled Texas City oil refinery, alleging that workers and residents in the area were exposed to benzene and other chemicals.  

More than 2,200 workers at the refinery and residents from the surrounding area filed the BP class action lawsuit on August 3 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas. The complaint alleges that for 40 days earlier this year, the company illegally released the chemical benzene into the atmosphere.

The benzene lawsuit comes just as BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, was finally able to stop the flow of oil from a well a mile under the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, which has caused a massive oil spill that is expected to cost the company tens of billions of dollars in oil spill lawsuits and clean up costs.

Plaintiffs in the BP Texas City refinery class action lawsuit say the company has been releasing benzene into the atmosphere at the plant due to a hydrogen compressor that broke down on April 6. The 2,212 plaintiffs allege that they suffered serious injuries and illnesses from benzene exposure.

Benzene is an industrial chemical that has been linked to the development of cancer, leukemia and other life-threatening health problems. It is a known carcinogen used as an industrial solvent in the production of plastic and synthetic rubber, as well as drugs and dyes.

BP’s Texas City Refinery is the third-largest oil refinery in the United States, and has been the subject of several major safety incidents. As recently as September, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit BP with an $87.4 million fine for not complying with a safety agreement made after a March 23, 2005 explosion and fire that killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others.

In February 2009, BP Products North America agreed to pay $180 million to resolve a separate environmental lawsuit over benzene emissions at the oil refinery. That case involved violations of a 2001 consent decree and Clean Air regulations which were identified during inspections by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following the March 2005 blast.

Under the terms of that settlement, BP agreed to spend $161 million to address their Clean Air Act violations by setting up better pollution controls, enhanced maintenance and monitoring devices and improving their internal management practices. Another $6 million was designated to fund a project to reduce air pollution in Texas City and $12 million was paid as a penalty.

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There Are 8 Comments So Far • (Add Your Comments)

  1. The Bhopal Incident of Union Carbide should be cited as a precedent for such industrial accidents, and yes, BP should be held accountable, in the same way that Union Carbide was held accountable.

  2. I live in texs city, i was blown away by what was going on, i have a 13 yr old an 11yr old, an 8 yr old, and an 8 month old, i have been battleing colds allergies sinus infections, uri, fevers ect… for the past 4 months!( my children and i hardly ever get sick) i had no idea it could be an effect of the chemicals BP was releasing, hell i didnt even know about the situation until a couple of days ago, i was told you can sign up at the nessler center here in town, for the lawsuite but hav’nt seen anything going on. well i do think BP should be responsible for everything, i have been through a whole lot with the kids,

  3. this man made disaster has wrecked our coastline and cost millions from residents. Big oil in bed with govt. is doing nothing to do what is right. Everyone join in a class action lawsuit and stop the lies and force them to pay for what they have done to us. what a disgrace.

  4. Carbide killed my father from asbestos exposure and my mother in 2005.

  5. i have lived in texas city for 20yrs and now i have bad headaches and now i have a major rash all over my face and back. when the spill happened i was living on 29th in texas ave, right across the street. I was litterally 200 yards away from the ultra cracker where the spill was.

  6. I worked at bp from 2000 to 2009 and saw the aftermath of the blast of 2005.There were five fatalities within the following 3years alone.Now I am suffering from effects of this latest mistake of bp incompetence.They need to make this right for the people of texas city.

  7. I lived in Texas City across from BP from 2004-2008 and I was in and out of the hospital with pneumonia several times, now I have COPD and I am permanently disabled. My friend just told me a few days ago that BP has been releasing these chemicals for years and not telling anyone. I was standing outside my house and saw the 2005 explosion and it was not the first time the plant blew something up while I was living there. Do I have a case? I don’t know where to turn, my wife also has breathing problems. Does anyone know who I can contact?

  8. During the time of the release he was one of the workers inside the plant. Went to Doctor 2 times she could not figure it out his whole body even his toes looked like his skin had been burned and he had the worst cough for months we put all kinds of stuff on all that rash some turned into big soarers. Little by little it went away but he still has a awful cough. My uncle died of Benze poisiong it took over his lungs, throat and it was cancer it could not be stopped. BP is guilty some of there own supervisors turned on BP they did not want to go to prison for lying..The government needs to make them settle therenarenalot of sick people out there..They already paid the fine.

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