» acute myeloid leukemia Wed, 26 Dec 2012 21:04:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Nightmare For Residents of Benzene Tainted Neighborhood Thu, 24 Sep 2009 15:22:33 +0000 A few weeks back I posted about an L.A. County housing tract in Carson Ca. found to be heavily contaminated with underground benzene and methane. The pollution came from defunct underground tanks operated by Shell Oil Co. on the site for forty years ending in 1960.

When I last posted about this, the nightmare was just beginning for those living in the 275 home Carousel neighborhood. Barbara Post, president of the Carousel Homeowners’ Association had said:

"Chemicals are a serious matter, we have to trust that Shell is going to take care of it for us."

Trusting Shell is not a good plan, fortunately Barbara Post is starting to see more clearly:

"I’ve been worried about this, but I’m scared to death now, Shell can’t replace my house, and they can’t replace that neighborhood."

Weeks ago Shell had only drilled samples from the public roads and had just begun asking home owners for permission to test private properties. Shell, of course, was optimistic:

 "We don’t believe that there is reason to be concerned from a safety perspective, but we felt like it was the right thing to do to make sure there were not the same levels detected on residential properties."-Shell spokeswoman Alison Chassen

Would Chassen be concerned if it were her neighborhood? Definitely. It is well known that subterranean benzene has a nasty habit of seeping into structures built above it, and contaminating ground water.

Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon and known human carcinogen. It interferes with the body’s ability to produce new blood cells, a crucial part of the human immune system. Benzene exposure has been linked to debilitating and potentially fatal blood diseases like acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The possibility of people contracting these disorders should be of concern from any reasonable "safety perspective."

Recently, 300 residents met with lawyers to discuss a lawsuit against Shell. According to the lawyers, at some sites, benzene levels are 100,000 times accepted state standards. Robert Bowcock, an environmental consultant hired by the law firm told residents:

 "You’ve been exposed to a very high level, I’m incensed and angry that Shell let this happen. Shell is not interested in being your friend. They will do absolutely the minimum they are required to do. We know the games they can play and we’re going to hold their feet to the fire."

Precedent indicates that Bowcock is correct. A benzene lawsuit is the only way to force Shell to properly compensate residents for damage to their properties, and their health.


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EPA Sues Utah Chem Co. Citing Mishandled Waste Mon, 14 Sep 2009 00:19:16 +0000 Parish chemical Co. in Vineyard Utah faces a lawsuit filed late last week by the EPA. The suit stems from a 2008 inspection during which federal investigators discovered a staggering collection of toxic waste sitting “unsecured” in hundreds of open vats and containers.

According to the suit, the containers were “failing” and “improperly managed.” In order to “reduce the potential of fire and/or explosion,” EPA workers removed hundreds of the containers from the site.

Appallingly, many of the containers were not labeled as hazardous or had no label, others sported question marks, or labels reading “unknown.”

The lack of care clearly displayed by the company was not because the chemicals were considered benign, the substances discovered at Parish are some of the most flammable, volatile, and health hazardous chemicals currently in use. The list includes methylene chloride, acetone, petroleum ether, benzene, toluene, and perchloric acid.

The following list of additional allegations appeared in yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune:

  •  Records for wastes shipped off-site were incomplete.
  •  Drums had collapsed or were in poor condition.
  •  Hazardous wastes were stored for years beyond a 90-day limit.
  •  There was no record of tank inspections or air emissions tests.
  •  The company did not have liability coverage for accidents.

According to the lawsuit, the cost of the federal response was $640,000. The suit seeks penalties of $32,500 to $37,500 per violation.

This type of reckless behavior puts workers at risk of unnecessary chemical exposure. Obviously Parish Chemical Co. has a very lax attitude about storing dangerous waste which directly indicates a lax attitude towards worker health and longevity.

All of the above listed chemicals are hazardous to human health, especially benzene. Long term exposure to the chemical severely impairs the immune system by disrupting the body’s ability to produce blood cells, this can result in a number of potentially fatal hematological disorders like, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia.

Parish will lose this case and pay a relatively small fine, but in situations like this it’s the workers that really lose. At place like Parish an employee who regularly clocks in to do his or her job could be rewarded with a debilitating and potentially fatal illness. Sadly this is not uncommon, even with today’s laws and safeguards workers are often sickened due to the actions of their employers.

If you or a loved one have been wrongfully harmed by benzene at work, it is important to speak with a benzene lawyer without delay. Some states have statues of limitations (time limits) that could block you from compensation. Reputable benzene lawyers charge nothing to discuss your case, and only receive payment if your case is successful.


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L.A. County Homes Sit Over “Extensive” Benzene, Methane Tue, 01 Sep 2009 00:38:00 +0000 reports that Shell Oil Co. has found the ground beneath the Carousel housing tract in Carson Ca., to be extensively contaminated with benzene and methane. 

The contamination is thought to stem from shell owned oil reserves operated on the land from the 1920′s to 1960′s. In those days, oil was stored in subterranean concrete lined tanks which are now illegal due to problems with leakage. Today oil is stored in above ground tanks.

Barbara Post, president of the Carousel Homeowners’ Association said:

"Chemicals are a serious matter, we have to trust that Shell is going to take care of it for us."

So far, Shell seems to be reacting to the situation responsibly, but that attitude seems a bit naive. If one must trust Shell to take care of something like this, I would recommend also taking all possible measures toward forcing them to do the right thing.

Oil companies can be counted on to downplay any contamination related issue, here’s a text book quote from shell spokeswoman Alison Chassen:

"We don’t believe that there is reason to be concerned from a safety perspective, but we felt like it was the right thing to do to make sure there were not the same levels detected on residential properties."

No reason for concern? Very comforting I’m sure to for the 275 home owners on the Carousel tract.

Chassen is full of it. There is at the very least, some reason for concern in the area of safety when your neighborhood is found to be sitting on a toxic chemical plume. One such reason is that extensive subterranean benzene contamination has been known release fumes that seep into the structures located over the plume, potentially exposing residents to one of the most carcinogenic substances known to humans. 

Benzene exposure has been linked to debilitating and potentially fatal blood diseases like acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The possibility of people contracting these disorders should be of concern from any reasonable "safety perspective."

So far the testing has been done only on public rights of way, Shell is now seeking home owner’s permission to test their yards.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board is overseeing the testing.


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Railway Worker Sues Former Employer Over Benzene Exposure Thu, 13 Aug 2009 01:14:08 +0000 The Texas legal journal Southeast Texas Record reports that "a man who claims he was exposed to benzene and other carcinogens throughout his career with the Kansas City Southern Railway Co. has filed suit against his former employer."

Richard Czuprynski says that during his employment with KCS, he was exposed to benzene, xylene, toluene, mixed solvents and diesel exhaust (which also contains benzene and other chemicals).

Czuprynski worked for the railway as a conductor, brakeman and engineer, from 1976 through march of this year.

The suit lists a number of "negligent acts" on the part of the KCS:

  • failure to provide a safe place to work
  • failure to limit hazardous substance exposure
  • failure to warn of dangers of hazardous substances
  • failure to provide adequate protective equipment

Czuprynski alleges that he developed the blood disease non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of his exposure to benzene. According to the suit he seeks compensation for his mental anguish, physical pain and suffering, lost earnings and benefits, and the related medical costs.

Czuprynski has a solid case here, he was clearly exposed to benzene on the job for years, and has a blood disorder that is clearly linked to benzene. The odds of a favorable outcome lie with Czuprynski.

Many Americans have been needlessly and carelessly exposed to benzene over the course of their careers leaving many who were simply doing their jobs sick and unable to work.

The fact is that industry has been aware of the dangers of benzene and of evidence that it causes cancer for over a hundred years. Today science continues to link specific blood disorders and leukemias with benzene exposure. The growing list includes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia.

If you or a loved one have worked in an industrial setting for any extended period and have been diagnosed with any of the above conditions, contact a benzene lawyer immediately. In some states statutes of limitations (time limits) exist that could prevent you from successfully obtaining compensation, even though your case may be cut and dry.  


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Federal Money Going Towards Cleanup of Leaky Underground Tanks Fri, 07 Aug 2009 00:13:20 +0000 Old underground gas storage tanks put people at risk of exposure to benzene and other carcinogens. As these tanks deteriorate, they release their content into the ground, threatening to poison ground water, and drinking water wells.

According to a 2005 Sierra Club report, in 2005 the U.S. had 680,000 leaking underground storage tanks, with about 9,000 new leaks discovered annually. 

Fortunately the recent economic stimulus package includes $197,000 for storage tank cleanup. The funds are to be used for sites of unknown ownership, or where property owners are unwilling or unable to pay for the cleanup.

Margret Levin of the Sierra Club said:

"The longer that leaking tanks remain buried and aren’t cleaned up, the greater the chance of ground water contamination. The gasoline and oil from the tanks contain toxic substances such as benzene, toluene and heavy metals that can cause cancer and other health problems."

“The money that we’re getting won’t completely solve the problem, but it will help,” 

Long term exposure to even small amounts of benzene has been shown to reduce white blood cell counts, and has been linked to life threatening blood diseases and leukemias like, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

People living near old or even newer gas stations, or any buried gas or oil tanks, face possible water table or well contamination and should consider having their water tested for petrochemicals.

If you or a loved one have been wrongfully exposed to benzene, your best ally is a qualified benzene lawyer. Benzene lawyers are familiar with all the issues surrounding wrongful benzene exposure, and are equipped to go up against even the most powerful corporations in order to obtain compensation for victims. A reputable benzene lawyer will ask for no money unless they win your case. If there is any chance you’ve been exposed, you owe it to yourself to contact a benzene lawyer today.


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Austrailian Taxpayers May Face $98m Hydrocarbon Clean-up Fri, 31 Jul 2009 01:33:15 +0000 Two years ago, a massive plume of toxic chemicals was discovered beneath the site of a Sydney waterfront development. Now Australia’s tax payers face footing the $98m clean-up bill.

Australia’s Environment Protection Authority just declared that chemical leaching of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene and cyanide at the site poses "a significant risk of harm to human health and the environment" also pointing out the the chemicals are at "concentrations significantly exceeding trigger values for the protection of human health". 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, it has also recently come to light that, "the contaminated groundwater is making its way into Darling Harbor, potentially killing marine life at the tourist hot spot."

The Herald also pointed out that:

There is a distinct possibility the site’s polluter, Alinta, may escape the cost of the clean-up because a higher threshold of remediation is required to allow residential towers on the site.  

This would be normal as well engineered loopholes often allow polluting corporations to escape cleaning up the toxic messes they create worldwide.

Chief executive of the Barangaroo Development Authority, John Tabart, says the site is safe because "contaminated ground water is away from the public." he continued:

"It is controlled… and removed from that area, [but] this can’t continue on and that is why there is now a remediation order."

Folks like Mr. Talbert are often overly optimistic about remediation and the safety of highly toxic sites. It would be nice if contaminated ground water didn’t pose a threat to the public due to it’s being underground, that would seem logical to those unfamiliar with benzene plumes. At best Mr. Talbert is unaware that in areas heavily contaminated with aromatic hydrocarbons, vapors have been known to rise to the surface sometimes seeping into homes. Also, underground chemical plumes are notoriously difficult to completely remediate, meaning there will likely be some amount of benzene present under the site for a very long time.

Recently a government gazette said this about the contaminated groundwater at the site:

"[The contaminated groundwater] is impacting the surrounding areas, including the basement of a residential building adjacent to the site, potentially exposing humans in that building to harmful vapors; however, it is currently being effectively controlled."

Prolonged exposure to benzene has been linked to severe and potentially fatal blood disorders such as aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and others. According to the World Health Organization, humans should take all possible measures to avoid benzene whenever possible.  

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Benzene in Fuel is Harmful to Humans Mon, 20 Jul 2009 12:24:02 +0000 In the United States our way of life is made possible by petroleum products such as gasoline and oil. Indeed we would not be where we are today without oil, but what is the cost to the health of our nation? Considering that most of us are regularly exposed to gasoline vapors, should we accept the addition of benzene, a class A known human carcinogen, to our gasoline?

Gasoline and oil products and the industries that surround them pose a significant threat to the health of consumers, workers, and communities:

  • The international center for technology assessment estimates that medical costs associated with gasoline and diesel related cancers, birth defects, respiratory illnesses are well above $500 billion a year.
  • An Denver USA study shows that children living near heavy traffic and/or gas stations are six times more likely to have cancer, and eight times more likely to have leukemia. (Benzene is unquestionably linked to several leukemias like acute myeloid leukemia, and acute lymphocytic leukemia.)
  • Britain’s Birmingham University calls gasoline and vehicle emissions "the primary culprits" directly responsible for their conclusion that UK children living near major traffic hubs face 12 times more risk of cancer related death.
  • German scientists found that blood benzene concentrations in children living near heavy traffic or filling stations are 70% higher than in other children.

The above facts are indeed disturbing and perhaps a slap in the face to anyone who hasn’t yet noticed that human health is often unable to trump profit in the current economy.

Take for example the tobacco industry, makers of the only product that, when used as directed, causes death. Like the petrochemical industry they too are allowed to add benzene, and whatever other chemicals they want, to their products without any regulation.

But why must we be poisoned on a regular basis? Why don’t we just take the known carcinogens out of the gas and call it good? 

Let’s face it, it’s no coincidence that of the seven EPA designated class A known human carcinogens, benzene and 1,3 butadiene (the ones in gas and cigarettes), are by far the least restricted. Restricting these commodity chemicals, or replacing them with alternatives (yes they exist) would cut deeply into the profits of some of the most economically powerful groups in the world.

It is true that blending ethanol with gasoline can result in a significantly less toxic fuel, in some parts of the U.S. these fuels are already available, but many doubt that ethanol blended fuels will ever sweep the globe because ethanol production is agriculture based and thus elaborate and costly.

While it is currently impossible to completely eliminate petrochemical exposure in our population, we must hold oil companies accountable for their actions and insure that the fuels that humans regularly handle are as free of carcinogens as possible. The facts above show that the current situation is completely unacceptable.



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U.S. Steel Reveals Benzene Cleanup Plans Thu, 09 Jul 2009 13:11:18 +0000 U.S. Steel has just released the details of their plans to clean up an underground benzene plume that has been seeping into Lake Michigan from the company’s Gary Steel Works. Benzene levels in the groundwater were up to 600 times the federal drinking water limit.

Though the exact source and of the benzene is difficult to pinpoint, many speculate that it came from an abandoned "tank farm" at a demolished coke plant formerly located on the seven mile long property.

U.S. Steel says it is already installing 11 specially designed 65 foot deep wells that will pump groundwater to the surface where a vacuum and catalytic oxidizer will allegedly burn 99 percent of the pollutant.

Benzene is a virulently cancerous organic compound. Industry’s wide use of benzene, from the undustrial revolution to present day, has left a legacy of pollution, suffering, and death that has affected the lives of countless innocent bystanders. Benzene is associated with debilitating blood disorders like aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute myeloid leukemia, and non-Hogkin’s lymphoma, among others.

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Stephen Colbert Blasts Seattle Activist’s Fireworks Lawsuit Sat, 04 Jul 2009 16:46:45 +0000 On Tuesday Stephen Colbert, the Comedy Central "news commentator" railed against a lake city man who filed a lawsuit saying that the city of Seattle must conduct an environmental review prior to it’s Fourth of July fire works show at the city’s Gas Works Park.

Gas Works…ummm… Park? The area is a partially remediated toxic waste site.

At the Heart of the lawsuit are concerns that the thousands of people present at the show could kick loose or otherwise compromise the protective layer of clean soil capping the heavily benzene laden soil below, exposing the public to the the known carcinogen.

A lawsuit attempting to prohibit fire works on the Fourth of July is of course fair game for Colbert’s writers, but the lawsuit guy has a point, even if he is a party pooper. Benzene exposure can lead to a number of blood disorders like aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, as well as several types of leukemia including acute myeloid leukemia, and acute lymphocytic leukemia.

While the lawsuit may be great fodder for the late night TV crowd, it has some valid points. Soil and groundwater that are heavily contaminated with benzene tend to release fumes above ground into the air. Abandoned gas plants tend to be some of the most benzene contaminated sites on earth, and should be avoided.  

Colbert, of course, tends to disagree:

"I say an abandoned gas plant is the perfect place to shoot off fireworks. The pyrotechnics could last for weeks. Plus, thanks to the underground plumes of carcinogenic benzene, you don’t have to bring pot."

Benzene Leukemia Law Blog wishes you a happy Fourth of July!

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Senator Charles E. Schumer Speaks Out On Benzene Emissions Wed, 24 Jun 2009 02:25:52 +0000 New York Senator Charles E. Schumer has written a letter to the owner of the Tonawana Coke Corperation strongly urging the company to take swift action to reduce harmful benzene emissions. 

Schumer noted that the plant had reduced emissions of certain toxins, but said that "much more needs to be done to reduce the amount of benzene released into the air."

An EPA and DEC funded study found last year that airborne benzene levels in and around the town of Tonawanda are up to 75 times higher than New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recommended guidelines.


“Studies have proven that exposure to these sky-high benzene levels are harmful and that the emissions from this plant are simply too high. A more concerted effort must be made to prevent these toxic chemicals from making their way into our air. I urge the Tonawanda Coke Corporation to map out a plan to reduce these harmful emmissions and present it to the public — to ensure the health and safety of residents and workers.”

Schumer went on to underline the urgency of the threat that benzene emissions pose to the health of the people of Tonawanda…

"Due to the fact that benzene is a known carcinogen, every effort must be made to greatly reduce the amount that is being released by Tonawanda Coke. Residents of the Town of Tonawanda and the surrounding area are experiencing numerous health problems resulting from these toxic emissions. Serious diseases such as fibromyalgia and many types of cancer are occurring at irregularly high rates among Tonawanda residents. This in addition to less serious ailments such as constant headaches, and increased asthma and allergy rates, are proof enough that something is happening to the town’s residents. It is no coincidence that those suffering from serious health problems live in close proximity to the Tonawanda Coke plant.

Indeed exposure to benzene causes cancer and bone marrow failure (BMF) diseases like aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia and others.

The Tone of Schumer’s letter was grave but respectful of Tonawanda Coke’s contributions the economy of Tonawanda and New York State. Tonawanda Coke Corporation, great company if you can see past them breaking environmental laws and poisoning innocent people with massive amounts of airborne benzene.


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