Several Roxanna and South Roxanna residents say the value of their homes has been damaged by the local oil refinery.

Jason and Emily Thatcher, William R. and Diana Greenlee, Garth and Julie Akal and Christopher Brobst filed a consolidated compliant Feb. 1 in Madison County Circuit Court against Shell Oil Company, BP Products North America Inc. and ConocoPhillips Company. WRB Refining LLC and URS Corporation were also named as defendants.

According to the lawsuit, the owners and operators of the refinery knowingly released the chemical benzene and other benzene-containing pollutants into the land and ground water surrounding its Wood River Refinery. Multiple violations allegedly happened during the refining process conducted there since the 1980's, including a 290,000-gallon spill of unleaded gasoline.

The homeowners argue benzene has long been known to cause certain forms of leukemia. The Illinois Department of Public Health allegedly concluded in its study of the adjoining neighborhoods' soil vapor tests that benzene and hexane vapors are continuing to enter homes in the Roxanna community.

The residents claim contamination, known as the Benzene Plume, allegedly caused by the defendants has greatly diminished the value of their properties. They ask to be awarded economic damages for the lost value of their properties and their use of them.

The group also wants the owners and operators of the refinery to pay for an extended medical monitoring program, which would include the treatment of symptoms or conditions likely caused by benzene exposure.

They also want to see money put toward medical research on the topic. The residents are also asking the defendants be ordered to pay for cleaning up the contamination site.

Attorneys Randy Gori, D. Todd Mathews and Sara M. Salger of Edwardsville are representing the group. They ask for a jury trial.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-142

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