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Nearly 48,000 suing BP over toxic pollution from Texas refinery

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Texans sue BPOver the course of 40 days in 2010, BP allowed hundreds of thousands of pounds of chemicals to escape from its refinery in Texas City, Texas. Unfortunate neighbors inhaled a carcinogenic cocktail of benzene, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide.

Now, more than three years after the incident and a year after BP sold the refinery to another company, the first four of an estimated 48,000 claimants are having their day in court.

In a trial that began Monday, the neighbors are seeking up to $200,000 apiece in compensation — plus $10 billion in punitive damages, which they have pledged in court documents to donate to charity. From Bloomberg:

BP knowingly vented at least 500,000 pounds of toxic chemicals, including benzene, from a faulty refinery unit to a flare the company knew was incapable of destroying the toxins, Tony Buzbee, the residents’ lead attorney, said in a phone interview. He claims BP would have lost more than $20 million if it had shut the unit down during repairs.

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