GALVESTON - The Galveston County District Clerk's Office reports that about 50,000 people have filed suit against BP in response to an alleged toxic release at the petrochemical company's Texas City facility two years ago.

According to the district clerk's office, the local residents seek legal action for exposure "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 April 6, 2010.

Each emission suit asserts BP 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.

The plaintiffs claim BP "followed this illegal procedure until May 16, 2010, when the compressor was restarted" despite its knowledge that "the flaring process would be incomplete and allow chemicals to escape into the atmosphere."

The suits claim the release in question inflicted serious health problems, including, but not limited to respiratory disorders, labored breathing and dizziness.

District Clerk Doryn D. Glenn told The (Galveston County) Daily News in a June 14 article that the figures for the BP litigation surpassed the number of cases filed in response to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association's supposed mishandling of Hurricane Ike claims in the county.

No trial date has been set.

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