An East Alton man says he developed cancer because of exposure to toxins released by a Roxana chemical company.

John Disher filed a lawsuit Nov. 17 in Madison County Circuit Court against Shell Oil Company, also known as Shell Oil Products U.S., and BP Products North America Inc. ConocoPhillips Company and WRB Refining LLC are also named as defendants, in discovery only.

According to the complaint, Disher has lived in East Alton since 1983 and attended school in Roxana from third grade through high school, 1990 through 2000. That school on Chaffer Avenue is located near the Shell Oil and BP Products Wood River Facilities.

Disher claims the facility, during the 90's, leaked or released benzene and benzene-containing pollutants into the air and ground water of the nearby neighborhoods and community. Benzene is a known carcinogen and has been linked to the cause of certain blood cancers, according to court records.

Disher says he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in May 2009 and alleges his exposure to Benzene was the direct cause. He accuses Shell Oil and BP Products of negligence for knowingly releasing the toxic chemical into the environment. He claims the companies have a history of reckless conduct. Disher seeks more than $100,000 in damages for medical expenses, loss of income and court costs.

Numerous lawsuits involving benzene-related damages have been filed in Madison County this year.

Attorneys Christopher W. Dysart of Chesterfield, Mo. and Kimberly M. Steuterman of St. Louis are representing Disher. They ask for a jury trial.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 11-L-1225

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