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Energy Jury finds BP negligent in Texas emissions event

Jury finds BP negligent in Texas emissions event

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — BP was negligent and responsible for a 41-day emissions event in 2010 at its Texas City refinery, but there isn’t enough evidence linking the pollution to illnesses, a Galveston jury has found.

BP PLC has said that 500,000 pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the air when there was a technical problem at the refinery. The emissions event coincided with the company’s efforts to plug a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The jury on Oct. 10 unanimously agreed that the company was responsible for the pollution, but only one person wanted to award damages. Three people who said they became ill due to the pollution testified at the trial that began Sept. 11. The trial was designed as a test for a larger suit that includes 45,000 people. The jury deliberated for two days and three hours before reaching a verdict.

BP reached a settlement with Texas in November 2011 to pay an unprecedented $50 million fine for repeated violations at the aging refinery along the Gulf Coast. The settlement included the 2010 emissions event. The company also faces a $1 billion class-action lawsuit for a 15-day gas leak in November 2011 that residents say made them sick.

Marathon Petroleum Corp. last October agreed to buy the refinery.

“Today’s verdict affirms BP’s view that no one suffered any injury as a result of the flaring of the BP ultracracker flare during April and May 2010,” BP spokesman Scott Dean was quoted as saying by the Galveston Daily News.

Tony Buzbee, the attorney for the residents, said he was surprised by the verdict.

“But I respect juries,” Buzbee told the Houston Chronicle, adding that he learned at this trial a few things that will help with the remaining cases.

 

 

 


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