A lawsuit against two oil and gas companies for oilfield cleanup is being revived by a Louisiana appellate court, Law360 reports.
The trial for the lawsuit ended in September 2015 with a finding that BP was primarily responsible for pollution at the Sweet Lake Land and Oil Company property. The site was contaminated with chemicals including benzene, and three companies were made to submit a cleanup plan to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. The jury decided that two other companies, Oleum Operating Co. and ASKM LC, were not to be held responsible. Those findings are now being reversed.
In late May, a court order challenged the jury decision to let Oleum and AKSM skirt claims that they violated remediation provisions required of them in their leases of state oil property. The lawsuit claimed the companies’ obligations outlined in a lease agreement with Sweet Lake to clean up environmental contamination was ignored.
Sweet Lake originally filed the suit in 2010, claiming the companies caused extensive environmental damage to 12 of the 199 acres leased in Calcasieu Parish.
“AKSM had an express obligation under the 2008 lease to ‘remove any contaminated soil and transport same for disposal of same off of the lands of [Sweet Lake],’” the court determined. “[Because] this was not done, we find AKSM was in breach of the 2008 lease. The jury erred in its ruling to the contrary.”
Regarding an unneeded well, the leasing agreement also required the companies to “plug and abandon the well and restore the surface area around the well.”
“Oleum did not do so,” the court said, “thus they were in breach of their obligation to restore under the lease. The jury erred in finding otherwise, and we hereby reverse that finding.”
Benzene exposure by oil contamination is a serious danger to human health. Exposure to benzene has been known to cause life-threatening diseases such as Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and aplastic anemia.