Local woman files suit against BP over chemical release in Texas City

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Nov. 19, 2013, 10:03am

GALVESTON - BP Products North America Inc. is named in a lawsuit stemming from an alleged release of toxic chemicals in late 2011 at its Texas City refinery.

In court documents filed Nov. 15 in Galveston County Court at Law No. 3, local resident Shauna White claims the incident exposed her to "extremely" high levels of benzene and other toxic chemicals.

The suit explains that on Nov. 15, 2011, the hydrogen compressor in the refinery's ultracracker unit went offline, claiming BP "opted to send the gasses to a flare" when it was not working.

"BP did this knowing that without the hydrogen compressor working the result would be incomplete and allow chemicals to escape into the atmosphere," the original petition says.

It adds the defendant "followed this procedure until the compressor was repaired or restarted."

"During this time period, BP continued to operate the refinery's ultracracker," the suit says.

White labels the release an "intentional act."

Consequently, she seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Marathon Oil purchased the refinery from BP last February.

BP recently won what was known as a "test trial" over a similar event that occurred in April and May 2010.

A local jury determined that BP's negligence caused the emissions event that lasted 40 days, but they did not find that negligence caused the suffering of three plaintiffs.

The trial's outcome will establish how the other plaintiffs’ cases will proceed in Galveston County 56th District Court, where Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the litigation.

Attorney David A. Slaughter of Houston is representing White, and Galveston County Court-at-Law No. 3 Judge Kerri M. Foley is presiding over the case.

Cause No. 71,074

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