GALVESTON, Texas - The Vujasinovic & Beckcom law firm of Houston on Sept. 14 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on behalf of 120 people who were exposed to benzene that was released from British Petroleum's Texas City refinery from April 6 through May 16, 2010 (Hamilton Fontenot, et al. and Albert Warner, et al., intervenors v. BP Products North America, Inc., No. CA 3:10-CV-00295, S.D. Texas, Galveston Div.).
The firm filed a petition to intervene in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Hamilton Fontenot and others on Aug. 3 (Hamilton Fontenot, et al. v. BP Products North America, Inc., No. 5:10-cv-12043-JCO-PJK, S.D. Texas, Galveston Div.).
According to the law firm:
A hydrogen compressor in the ultracracker unit began to malfunction on April 6, 2010. The ultracracker processes oil and produces high-octane blending components for gasoline. Because of the malfunction, BP shut down the compressor and began operations to fix it. During these repair efforts, BP re-routed gasses to a flare.
As a result of this re-routing, a number of dangerous chemicals, including benzene, began releasing into the air. These chemicals were continuously released while BP tried to fix the compressor. BP did not fix the compressor until May 16, 2010.
During the 40 days BP worked on its faulty compressor, 538,000 pounds of chemicals were released in to the air, including 17,000 pounds of benzene. During this time period BP did not warn the Texas City community about the chemical release.
Benzene is a carcinogen found in oil that has been linked to various forms of cancer. Exposure to benzene can also cause a number of other health problems.
The plaintiffs are represented by Brian Beckcom, Vuk Vujasinovic and Kenneth Fenelon of Vujasinovic & Beckcom.
Download the original Fontenot complaint.
Download the intervenor complaint.