Defense anticipates chance to present witnesses as BP toxic release trial enters third week

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Sep 23, 2013

GALVESTON - As the trial into a 2010 BP emission which allegedly lasted six weeks moves toward the one-month mark, the petrochemical company's legal team anticipates its turn to call in its designated witnesses.

In a short dialogue with Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox away from the jury's presence the morning of Sept. 23, Houston attorney Kenneth Tekell of Tekell, Book, Allen & Morris LLP inquired when those testifying for BP will be able to speak.

BP currently faces legal action over the failure of the hydrogen compressor in its Texas City refinery’s ultracracker unit, which went offline on April 6, 2010, and subsequently caused a chemical leak.

More than more than 50,000 people sued over the emissions for at least $200,000 in damages, each original petition asserting about 540,000 pounds of chemicals and compounds — including at least 17,000 pounds of benzene — had been released into the facility now belonging to Marathon Petroleum Co. and neighboring area.

Houston attorney Tony Buzbee of The Buzbee Law Firm, the complainants' lead counsel, accused BP of prioritizing profits over people to which the latter countered as untrue as it tried to "be a good neighbor."

Responding to Tekell's remarks, Buzbee said he is "ahead of schedule" with making his case and will tentatively be done by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, jurors heard a video deposition from Susan Moore, an environmental specialist, and live testimony given by Dr. Ram Hashmonay, an air monitor and measurement expert.

Moore answered Buzbee's queries pertaining to an old flare tip design's purported role in the toxic event and steam-to-gas ratio while Hashmonay talked about the monitoring system near the refinery.

The outcome of the trial, which is projected to be reached in matter of six weeks, will set the precedent for how the other cases would proceed.

More News

The Record Network