GALVESTON - A local man who was working in the vicinity of BP's Texas City facility at the time of an alleged toxic release last year is pursuing legal action.

Eric John Kingston claims in a lawsuit filed Dec. 7 in Galveston County Court at Law No. 1 that he "was exposed to significant amounts of toxic and noxious chemicals as well as benzene" for 40 days after a hydrogen compressor in the refinery's ultracracker unit went offline on Apr. 6, 2010.

According to recent court documents, the defendant chose to send the gasses to a flare in response to the compressor being out of service.

"BP did this, even though it knew the flaring process would be incomplete and allow chemicals to escape into the atmosphere," the suit says.

"BP followed this illegal 'procedure' until May 16, 2010, when the compressor was restarted."

The suit asserts the defendant released at least 540,000 pounds of chemical and compounds, including 17,000 pounds of benzene, into the environment, stating the emissions were kept a secret from Texas City officials until they were completed.

Kingston adds he had no opportunity to protect himself while performing his work duties at a nearby facility.

"This action by BP caused the plaintiff to seek medical treatment for symptoms to include respiratory disorders, difficulty breathing, headaches, drowsiness, dizziness and burning eyes," the suit says.

"BP because of its failure to alert the public of its release of chemicals into the environment exposed the plaintiff to a very punitive chemical release causing the plaintiff to miss days from work, in order to seek medical attention and rest from the toxic exposure."

Kingston consequently seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

He is serving as his own counsel.

The case has been assigned to Galveston County Court at Law No. 1 Judge John Grady.

Cause No. 66,503

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