Refinery workers seek $500M from BP over 2009 Texas City benzene leak

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Mar. 10, 2011, 3:45am


GALVESTON – Galveston attorney Tony Buzbee has a filed a $500 million lawsuit against BP Products North America Inc. and Pasadena Tank Corp. on behalf of eight contractors who claim their health has been affected as a result of a benzene leak.

According to the original petition filed March 4 in Galveston County District Court, the complainants "were injured and had his or her long-term health put in jeopardy after being exposed to extremely high levels of benzene" while working at BP's Texas City refinery on Aug. 19, 2009.

Each of the contractors claim a vapor and a strong odor completely enveloped their work area and pinpointed the source to a broken pipe.

"Upon seeing the source of the leak, the plaintiffs quickly evacuated the area," the suit says.

Court papers show the workers experienced various symptoms and sought medical treatment. Physicians informed them that they were exposed to benzene.

"Despite the fact plaintiffs reported the actual volume of benzene that was spilled, BP, as has been its custom, minimized the leak and release, and its effects in both its internal documentation, as well as the documentation with the authorities," the original petition says.

BP is accused of failing to properly inspect, maintain and repair its piping and vessels and neglected to supervise those from Pasadena Tank, with whom it contracted to perform the work.

A jury trial is requested.

The case has been assigned to Galveston County 405th District Court Judge Wayne Mallia.

Case No. 11-cv-0393

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