Yes, of course BP was negligent when it allowed at least 500,000 pounds of toxic gases to stream out of a refinery in Texas City, Texas, for 40 days in 2010.
So ruled a Texas jury. But that’s where the good news out of a lawsuit that could affect 48,000 refinery neighbors ends. Despite the company’s negligence, a jury concluded that the fumes it released, which contained such cancer-causing chemicals as benzene and nitrogen oxides, caused no harm to its neighbors.
The Houston Chronicle reported that a 12-person jury deliberated for nearly three days before concluding that BP had been negligent but that it was to be absolved of wrongdoing:
“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 said. “Armed with the knowledge gleaned from this case and this important jury verdict, the company will immediately begin to prepare for any additional proceedings involving other plaintiffs.”
Tony Buzbee, the attorney for the three residents who said they were harmed by the release, said he was surprised by the verdict.
“But I respect juries,” Buzbee said. “This was only the first one of the test cases. We learned some things. We will gear up and try another one in a couple of months.”
The three plaintiffs in the case said they fell ill and endured foul odors because of the gas leak. Now they have something new to feel ill about.