PA neighborhood sues Huntsman for noxious gases

David Yates Apr. 12, 2007, 12:00pm

Brock Akers

An entire Port Arthur neighborhood has banded together and filed a lawsuit against the chemical plant next door for not abiding by the "good neighbor policy."

Rosinda Dorsey and more than 100 of her fellow suburbanites filed a lawsuit against Huntsman Petrochemical (formerly known as Texaco Chemical Co.), and its parent companies for pumping their neighborhood full of noxious gases.

Dorsey and company filed their petition on April 11 with the Jefferson County District Court. Judge Milton Suffield, 136th District Court, will preside over the case.

According to the plaintiffs' petition, the defendant has been releasing unauthorized noxious fumes, vapors, odors and hazardous substances onto near by residents' property, then fraudulently misrepresenting the amount of toxins released.

"The vapors smell like rotten eggs," the lawsuit said. "When especially heavy, the vapors are intense enough to produce headaches and nausea."

"The plaintiffs are also forced to contend with periodic contamination of their home environments by a virtual snowfall of large and small particulates which coat their vehicles, lawns, homes and belongings with a fine coating of noxious chemicals. These particles are small enough to be inhaled and to cause hoarseness, sore throats, coughing and irritation to throat, eyes and lung surfaces," the suit said.

The disgruntled residents contend that the defendant is not exercising the standard of care implemented by other prudent operators of similar facilities who are honest and forthcoming with the public about the amount of chemicals they release into the atmosphere.

"Such a standard of care, referred to in the industry as a 'good neighbor policy, results in voluntary disclosure of noxious chemical emissions...the defendants have made the conscious decision to publish false and misleading information about their emissions to regulators."

The plaintiffs say they defendant has disrupted the enjoyment of their outdoor community and caused physical and emotional harm.

They claim the defendant has demonstrated negligence by violating Texas law and the Port Arthur Code of Ordinances, committed fraud by misrepresenting the amount of hazardous substances it releases, become a nuisance, trespassed onto the plaintiffs' property and committed assault by causing bodily injury.

The plaintiffs are asking for judgment against the defendants for the damages, both actual and exemplary, jointly and severally, within the jurisdictional limits of the court; pre and post-judgment interest in the maximum amount allowed by law; cost of suit; inconvenience and personal discomfort; loss of the use and enjoyment of property and damages associated with the released chemicals.

The plaintiffs are represented by two law firms, Pearson & Campbell and Phillips & Akers.

Case No. D179-100

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