BP faces 10-billion-dollar lawsuit over Texas site: report
BP has been hit with a 10-billion-dollar lawsuit over an alleged leak of toxic chemicals at its Texas City refinery as it struggles to recover from the Gulf oil spill, a report said Wednesday.
Tony Buzbee, a Texas lawyer, filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of 2,000 claimants linked to the alleged leak in April and May, reported Britain's Telegraph newspaper.
The lawyer -- who is also representing people affected by the Gulf of Mexico spill -- told the paper his clients were seeking compensation for "health effects including all symptoms associated with acute benzene exposure."
News of the lawsuit came as BP faced up to enormous costs from the spill, which has destroyed vital tourism, fishing and oil industries in the five Gulf coast states.
US government experts revealed higher than previous official estimates on Monday of the amount of oil spilt, saying 4.9 million barrels (more than 205 gallons) of crude spewed into the Gulf in the 87 days it took to cap the leak.
This made the disaster the biggest maritime spill ever.
If BP is found guilty of negligence, the flow rate means it could face up to 17.6 billion dollars in fines. The firm has also set up a 20-billion-dollar fund to pay claims from individuals and businesses hit by the disaster.
The British oil giant began operations to permanently plug the well on Tuesday.
The oil spill disaster began on April 20 when the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in the Gulf, 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 workers. It sank two days later.
© 2010 AFP