Our View: Buzbee wants BP to pay for the harm it hasn’t caused

The SE Texas Record Oct. 7, 2013, 5:46pm

Some people move out to the country to get away from traffic, overcrowding, crime, noise, and all the other sensory assaults of the city, and then start complaining that the countryside lacks urban amenities -- stores, restaurants, museums, sports franchises, etc.

Then they start resenting the farmers who were there before them, because the livestock stinks, the barren fields are ugly after harvest and farming acreage could be put to “better use” as synthetic yuppie parks. 

Some people relocate to industrial towns for the opportunities there and then start complaining about the mills, factories and refineries. The towns wouldn’t be there without those industries and neither would they, but the buildings and the bustle bother them.

People who’ve lived along the Gulf Coast for generations have genuine respect for oil refineries, seafood canneries, port facilities, etc., but newcomers often don’t share that perspective. They may think the whole area would be a lot nicer without all those big, ugly things that made it a thriving community.

There are potential hazards living next to an oil refinery -- some serious, some merely disconcerting. Pretending that obvious hazards will never happen isn’t reasonable. Nor is acting surprised or indignant when they do. Nor is exaggerating their impact.

Yet, that’s exactly what Houston attorney Tony Buzbee is trying to do with his lawsuit against BP for the Spring 2010 release of chemicals at its Texas City refinery.

Damages of some sort surely occurred and should be assessed and compensated, but Buzbee seeks compensation for injuries to the health of persons exposed to the chemicals, injuries that did not occur.

“The exposure levels that I saw reported in the monitoring and reflected in the model are not toxic,” declared a toxicologist testifying at the trial last week. “There is no evidence that those levels of benzene can hurt anybody ever.”

Buzbee’s clients should take their alleged injuries and go live somewhere else.

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