The owner of property bordering a former ExxonMobil gas station has filed a lawsuit against the petroleum giant alleging contamination due to leaky petroleum storage tanks.
The property is planned for development, but the plans were halted when groundwater testing found benzene levels at nearly 100 times the allowed regulatory levels. Other chemicals exceeded regulatory levels including toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and methyl tert-butyl ether.
The suit alleges that Exxon never told the property owner about the leaky petroleum storage tanks when they were discovered in 2003. The “constant and continuous, not intermittent or recurrent” contamination and the resulting damage has diminished the property’s value, and developments may not be able to move forward at all, according to the complaint.
The suit accuses ExxonMobil of negligence, nuisance and fraud, seeking more than $1 million in damages. Exxon had notified the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality when the leak was originally discovered, but, according to the petition, Exxon never notified the owner of the property to which the soil and groundwater contamination spread.
“For 13 years, ExxonMobil took minimal actions to clean up the release or the contamination or limit the spread of the contamination,” the suit states. “Plaintiff first learned of the contamination of its property in 2016. A geotechnical investigation — conducted in anticipation of redeveloping the property — exposed a suspected release. A subsequent environmental investigation discovered actual contamination of the property.”
Benzene is a chemical used in gasoline and a wide variety of industries and products. It has been linked to life-threatening cancers and diseases such as Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and aplastic Anemia.
People who work in close proximity to benzene or benzene-containing products are at higher risk for long-term exposure, in turn putting them at much higher risk of developing a life-threatening disease. Although inhalation is the most common way a person is exposed, benzene can also be absorbed through the skin.