Kelly Holleran Oct. 21, 2013, 4:08pm

A woman filed a lawsuit against Shell Oil company and other Roxana area refineries, saying the plants released benzene into the soil and surrounding air, causing her to develop cancer years later.

Betty Cox filed a lawsuit Oct. 15 in Madison County Circuit Court against Shell Oil Company, ConocoPhillips Company, WRB Refining, Cenovus GPCO and BP Products North America.

The suit claims that venue is proper because one or more defendants have done or are doing business in Madison County and because part of the alleged acts and omissions underlying the plaintiff’s claims occurred in Madison County.

In her complaint, Cox claims she previously lived on Fourth Street in Roxana. Volatile products, such as benzene, produced by the defendant refineries seeped into her home through cracks in her cinder block basement walls and through an open drain in her basement, according to the complaint. Benzene is a highly toxic chemical classified as a human carcinogen, according to the complaint.

“Based on the proximity of plaintiff’s property to the refineries it was reasonably foreseeable that plaintiff could be injured through the release, discharge, or spilling of such chemicals from the refineries, and/or from the failure to remediate spills for which defendants are responsible,” the suit states.

Cox alleges negligence against the defendants, saying they operated their refineries in a manner that allowed for the release of benzene, stored benzene in a way that allowed its release onto surrounding properties, failed to keep the pipelines safe, allowed benzene to remain underground where it reached groundwater supply and pumped groundwater in such a manner that benzene moved in an unnatural manner that allowed it to contaminate her property.

She also accuses the defendants of trespass, public nuisance and private nuisance.

In her four-count suit, Cox seeks compensatory damages of more than $200,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Ted N. Gianaris and G. Michael Stewart of Simmons, Browder, Gianaris, Angelides and Barnerd in Alton will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-1730.


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