BP sued over chemical release at Texas City refinery

GALVESTON - A Houston attorney filed suit against BP Products North America Inc. on behalf of a group of workers who claim they were exposed to hazardous fumes while in the vicinity of the oil giant's Texas City facility two years ago. The suit, filed by attorney Jimmy D. Ashley, accuses BP of a releasing hydrogen sulfide and other hazardous substances on Oct. 20, 2007. "The damages caused by the defendant to the plaintiffs should have been known to it and such damages were foreseeable," the original petition says. Court papers were filed Oct. 16. The plaintiffs are Mike Doxey of Alvin, Ronnie Glyn Jones of Crockett, Marcus Martinez Jr. of Dickinson, Reginald Warren of La Marque, Reginald Rowe of Pearland, Thomas M. Phares of Texas City, Fred Bullpit of Texas City, and Greg Smith of Houston. According to the complaint, an "upset" at one of the defendant's cracker units sent a vapor cloud of hydrogen sulfide over the fence that borders BP and the Union Carbide facility where the plaintiffs worked. "The wind was blowing from a south-southeast direction to a north-northeast direction and was bringing the vapor cloud directly over the plaintiffs' various directions," the suit says. It further explains that the buildings in which the workers occupied became highly contaminated, stating the vapors did not abate for over a two-hour period. The plaintiffs adamantly claimed they were exposed to the deadly fumes. "As a result of the release of the hydrogen sulfide and other hazardous substances that was released by the defendant's acts and/or omissions, there was a health hazard condition created in the area in which the plaintiffs worked," the suit says. "The plaintiffs, through no fault of their own, were compelled to inhale, ingest, and be dermally exposed to the cloud of hydrogen sulfide and other hazardous substances." Each complainant alleges they experienced problems with their skin, digestive tracts, and respiratory systems as a result of the emission. BP is ultimately faulted for creating what the suit considers a nuisance. Consequently, the plaintiffs seek damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of earnings, and medical expenses. Galveston County 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor is presiding over the case. Case No. 09CV1946

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