BP settles refinery pollution class action for $19.5 million

Steve Korris Oct. 24, 2008, 12:21am


BP Products North America has agreed to pay $19.5 million for release from a Madison County class action over pollution from refinery operations in Hartford.

BP and Edwardsville attorney Mark Goldenberg, who represents residents and property owners in Hartford, reported the agreement to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack on Oct. 15.

Earlier this year, Shell Oil subsidiary Equilon and former refinery owner Premcor paid $16 million for release from the class action.

BP's departure leaves Sinclair Oil and Apex Oil as the last defendants.

Sinclair filed objections to BP's settlement on Oct. 20.

If Stack approves the settlement, BP will provide $7,755,000 to
compensate property owners for damages or loss of value.

BP will provide $5,170,000 to compensate residents for loss of use or enjoyment.

Goldenberg's firm and four Missouri firms will share a $6.5 million fee.

The remainder, $75,000, will cover administrative costs.

For years Goldenberg and the Missouri firms battled for the right to lead the class action, but last year they began cooperating.

Their lawsuits allege that negligent refinery operations created an underground pool of petroleum that releases harmful vapors into the air with each rainfall.

BP settled without conceding liability.

According to the settlement agreement, BP settled "to avoid the burden, expense, and uncertainty of continuing the Hartford litigation."

BP made more than 75,000 pages of documents available to class counsel as well as electronic information, according to the

The agreement releases claims against BP subsidiaries Atlantic Richfield, ARCO Pipeline and BP Pipelines.

The Woody Law Firm and the firm of Stueve Siegel Hanson, both of Kansas City, and the Dysart Law Firm and the firm of Helfrey, Neiers and Jones, both of St. Louis County, will share the fee with Goldenberg's firm.

Robert Olian of Sidley Austin in Chicago represented BP.

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