$81 Million– Record settlement Ends AQMD suit with BP-ARCO

Random Lengths News | April 1, 2005
$81 Million!

Record Settlement Ends AQMD Suit vs. BP ARCO

By Mike Easterbrook

On March 17, BP West Coast Products and the South Coast Air Quality Management District settled lawsuits worth $616 million for $81 million for failing to inspect and repair thousands of parts, pipe joints and connections in their Carson petroleum refinery.

The settlement includes: $25 million in cash penalties to the South Coast Air Quality

Management District, $6 million in past AQMD emissions' fees, $20 million to improve BP’s Carson refinery, to reduce future emissions, and $30 million for community health programs.

BP spokesman Phil Cochrane said BP was in compliance with AQMD emission standards, but differed in its interpretation of inspection rules. "We did inspections and at no time did we determine there was any threat to the community or the environment," he said. "But we've modified our processes to comply with AQMD's interpretation of the rules."

However, Wilmington community activist Jesse Marquez begged to differ. "BP Arco is a liar, they are misrepresenting the truth of what actually happened," said Marquez.

"When they had a breakdown, they didn’t report it. Many in the community had to call it in."

The first lawsuit, filed in March 2003, sought $413 million for violations that occurred at large above-ground storage tanks between 1994 and 2002, while the second, filed in January, sought $183 million for violations between 2002 and 2004, as well as BP's failure to document and inspect 140,000 parts at its facility.

Anthony Patchett, a lawyer who investigated the Belmont High School incident, knows the full extent of the damaging effects done by Hydrogen Sulfate. He gave expert testimony about the results of exposure.

"[BP Oil] says [hydrogen sulfate] is just a nuisance odor, but the truth is children and the public were exposed to a known toxic chemical," Jesse Marquez said as he pointed out several detrimental effects

documented in 20 some page report from Anthony Patchett’s office.

Kaye H. Kilburn, a M.D. and expert in chemical exposure has extensive records detailing the potential damage done to the children and the community due to exposure. $30 million will go to a community asthma study and treatment program, $3 million dollars per year for ten years. Marquez will serve on the sub-committee of the AQMD that decides where and how that money will be proportioned in the community’s interest.

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