Lawsuit against oil companies claims Brown & Root worker died from radiation exposure

Michelle Keahey Sep. 1, 2011, 12:21pm

The wife of a deceased Brown & Root worker claims her husband died due to exposure to radioactive material and has filed a lawsuit against the oil companies that had equipment cleaned at the Belle Chasse facility.

Nelsie Saulsberry filed suit against Chevron USA Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Humble Inc. on May 6, in Plaquemines Parish Court. The defendant removed the case to federal court in New Orleans on Aug. 26.

Nelsie Saulsberry is the widow of Mason Saulsberry, who died on May 6, 2010. According to the lawsuit, Mason Saulsberry worked at the Brown & Root facility in Belle Chase from 1970 to 1974 and was allegedly exposed to hazardous, toxic and carcinogenic radioactive materials commonly referred to as "naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM)."

The material is co-produced during oil and gas production, as it adheres to oil production equipment and piping. During his employment, Saulsberry cleaned the pipes that were coated with radioactive material and as a result, he was exposed to radiation that resulted in his death, the lawsuit states.

The defendants are accused of failing to warn of the dangers, failing to properly supervise its worker, failing to properly test their pipe for radioactive material, failing to properly remove the material so it did not present a hazard and failing to place marking identification on contaminated pipe.

The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of working in conjunction with the American Petroleum Institute to submit false data to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to prevent the discovery of the actual levels of radioactivity.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of compensatory damages for physical and mental pain and anguish, loss of society, funeral expenses, loss of support, exemplary damages and interest.

Saulsberry is represented by Jeremiah S. Sprague and Timothy J. Falcon of Falcon Law Firm in Marrero.

U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-02142

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Organizations in this Story

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20460

Exxon Mobil
5959 Las Colinas Blvd
Irving, TX 75039

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