A benzene exposure lawsuit cites grave health effects.

A woman filed a lawsuit August 31 in Madison County Circuit Court against Shell Oil Company and a number of its affiliated plants, alleging that she contracted a disease and possibly leukemia while growing up near a Shell Oil Plant.

At the Shell facilities close to the woman’s home and school, Shell and BP processed and stored benzene, a toxic chemical that has been classified as a human carcinogen, according to an article in The Record.

The complaint says that benzene entered the surrounding air and water and that the woman was exposed to the chemical.

The exposure allegedly caused the woman to develop myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood and bone marrow disease that sometimes develops into leukemia. She was diagnosed with the syndrome in November 2010, the suit states.

The lawsuit claims the toxic chemical exposure affected the woman substantially, citing

  • Medical costs
  • Mental anguish
  • Shortened life expectancy
  • Work absences that damaged her career

The woman says the defendants were to blame for her situation because

  • They used benzene even though they knew it was linked to cancer
  • They failed to sufficiently test the effects of the chemical on people living close by
  • They failed to notify her and other residents of air and water contamination
  • They minimized and hid the dangers of benzene exposure
  • They knowingly committed environmental violations

In the two-count suit, the woman seeks a judgment of more than $100,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

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