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Oil Refinery Leukemia Settlement

Published on May 27th, 2020 by Andrew Hughes

The decedent was a 53-year old woman who was employed as a contractor safety attendant.  She worked inside oil refineries owned by the co-defendant, Chevron. Approximately 14 months later, she developed leukemia, which resulted in her death in 2000. 

Her family claimed that her employer and the owners of the refineries where she was sent to work were negligent by failing to monitor the workers’ benzene exposure and that they falsely prepared statements claiming that benzene levels were monitored when they were not. 

Despite the fact that benzene is a known carcinogen, the companies claimed that the plaintiff’s leukemia was not a result of her benzene exposure during the course of her employment. However, in 2002, her employer settled for $1,500,000. 

oil refinery leukemia

Oil Refinery Exposures

Benzene is present in gasoline and other byproducts of crude oil. Benzene absorption occurs through the skin, ingestion, or inhalation. Occupational benzene exposure through inhalation is very common in the oil industry. Benzene is now more regulated than it was in the past, but even recently, several maintenance and cleaning tasks increase the risk of exposure for those working in refineries. For instance, fume hoods and benzene strippers were not implemented at some refineries until the 1990’s. This is despite the fact that the American Petroleum Institute conceded back in 1948 that the only safe level of benzene exposure is zero.

The greatest potential for benzene exposure in an oil refinery is operational or maintenance tasks that require opening equipment with materials that contain benzene. Working in refineries is still dangerous and just about every craft of employees may be exposed to unsafe levels of benzene. This includes engineers, lab technicians, operators, safety attendants, refining inspectors, electricians, pipefitters, millwrights, plumbers, and sheet metal workers.

oil refinery leukemia

Oil Refinery Illnesses

Employees who worked in the oil refinery industry may have an increased risk of developing benzene related illnesses due to their exposure. If you or a loved one have been employed in an oil refinery and have been diagnosed with a benzene related illness, it may be a result of occupational exposure and you may have a claim against your employer or the owner of the property where the exposures occurred. 

Hughes Law Offices is providing this case history to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns, settlements, verdicts, and rulings. Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices.  If you believe that you have a case similar to this one, feel free to call 1-800-BENZENE and speak with an attorney today.

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