Benzene lawsuits have been big news lately in Texas, Tennessee, and Florida–some good news and some bad news. Good news is these benzene lawsuits are having their day in court; bad news is these benzene lawsuits are occurring because government oversight of its citizens’ safety is lax–forcing personal injury lawyers to step in and clean up the carcinogens through lawsuits after the cancer has been caused, soil contaminated, damage done.
Benzene is an industrial chemical used in the production of a number of products, including refineries, tire manufacturing, and microchip production. It is a known carcinogen, responsible for most cases of workplace-caused acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Atmospheric and workplace exposure to this leukemia-causing chemical is supposed to be regulated by EPA, OSHA, and other regulatory agencies. Unfortunately, as recent news events show, federal and state government officials’ hands are tied by loose laws regulating benzene or for punishing those who do not take appropriate benzene safeguards to prevent potential cancer from benzene exposure.
Concerned Houston-area citizens and Texas environmental watchdogs filed a Clear Air lawsuit last week to protect themselves from benzene and other carcinogenic and dangerous emissions from a Deer Park (southeast Houston) Shell Oil refinery. This is the first time benzene lawyers and private citizens have used a provision of the Clean Air Act that allows individuals to sue for violations when government enforcement fails.
The aim of this lawsuit is to prevent further “upset events,” that is, when safety procedures or equipment fails and releases air pollutants from refineries. According to attorneys filing the lawsuit, benzene and other dangerous chemicals are frequently released from this oil refinery but can be prevented with simple investments in equipment. Instead, millions of pounds of toxic substances (including carbon monoxide, benzene, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide) have been released into the air, according to the lawsuit. While the Shell refinery has paid slap-on-the-wrist fines (ultimately amounting to what one attorney calls a “pay to pollute” policy), this new lawsuit will fine the refinery up to $32,500 per day for violations dating back to 2002.
Meanwhile, benzene lawsuits in New York charge an IBM computer plant with cancers caused by over 70 years of toxic dumping in Endicott, birthplace of IBM. Over 90 present and former residents are part of the lawsuit originally filed over four years ago who have come down with a variety of health conditions, including birth defects and cancer.
Finally, closer to home, Publix, as subject of a benzene in soda lawsuit, will change the formula of and put expiration dates on their cans of diet lemon lime. Publix was one of many producers of citrus sodas found to contain benzene levels higher than EPA safety regulations for drinking water. Unfortunately, neither the EPA nor the FDA have set standards for benzene in soft drinks and could only issue warnings to the public and producers. Carcinogenic benzene molecules were released from chemical reactions in certain carbonated citrus drinks. This change occurred as part of a undisclosed settlement from a benzene lawsuit.
Like asbestos in the 70s, it’s taking benzene personal injury lawsuits to clean up industry’s act and to make our citizens’ home safer and reduce risks involved from workplace exposure to this leukemia-causing industrial solvent.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and you believe this cancer is a result of long-term benzene exposure, contact our HHP personal injury lawyers for a free consultation on what legal action you can take in Tennessee for benzene-caused cancer.