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BP faces new $1bn Texas City refinery lawsuit

17 April 2013

Courthouse News says 474 plaintiffs have launched a case against BP alleging a 15-day release of toxic chemicals in 2011 when the company still owned the refinery had damaged their health. The plaintiffs sued BP Products North America and refinery manager Keith Casey for more than $1 billion in punitive damages in Galveston County Court.

The new lawsuit comes eight years after the 2005 fire and explosion at BP's Texas City refinery which killed 15 workers and injured more than 170
The new lawsuit comes eight years after the 2005 fire and explosion at BP's Texas City refinery which killed 15 workers and injured more than 170

"BP has a long history of violating the rights and endangering the health of the people in Texas City, La Marque, and Galveston County," the complaint states. "BP has consistently ignored and violated air pollution laws and guidelines. Because of this, Galveston County now has the worst air quality in the United States.”

BP completed its sale of the refinery to Marathon Petroleum Corporation on February 1 for an estimated $2.4 billion.

The plaintiffs say: "This case focuses on a single pollution event perpetrated by BP among the thousands of similar acts that occurred during its time in Texas City. In November of 2011, BP released various toxic chemicals for approximately fifteen days. BP was aware of the release, knew of the harm the release could cause, but failed to take proper action to stop or control the release."

The plaintiffs allege BP released sulphur dioxide, methyl carpaptan, dimethyl disulphide and other toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, but denied the dangerousness of the leak.

They say an alarm picked up a sulphur dioxide reading at Dow Chemical's neighbouring plant on November 12, 2011, resulting in a shutdown of most of its operations for that time period and send all non-essential employees home, with essential employees being given respirators. Up to 40 employees reportedly sought medical treatment.


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