More Than 50,000 People Sue BP Over Air Pollution At Texas City Refinery

The fatal disaster at BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico was the driving force behind its 2011 Worst Company In America win. But many voters also pointed to incidents at other BP facilities, like the Texas City refinery that released about 500,000 pounds of pollutants into the air over the course of 40 days. Now a group of more than 50,000 people are suing BP over that little oopsy.

The incident, related to a problem with a compressor at the refinery, allowed excess chemicals like carbon monoxide and benzene to be released into the air between April 6 and May 16, 2010.

The company has already paid a $50 million fine after being sued by the state of Texas for violating the state’s air quality laws.

Now the Galveston Daily News reports that 53,800 people have filed suit against BP, alleging the Texas City incident made them ill.

However, a BP rep tells the paper that those chemicals could not have done the harm the plaintiffs are claiming:

Neither the community air monitoring network nor the BP fence-line monitors showed elevated (harmful emission) readings during April and May 2010, and we do not believe that any negative health impacts resulted from flaring at BP’s Texas City Refinery during this period… BP is defending and will continue to defend the lawsuits brought against it concerning this matter.

The Texas City plant was also the site of a 2005 explosion and fire that left 15 workers dead and 170 injured.

50,000 sue BP over air emissions event [Galveston Daily News]