Louisiana Record

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Mass action lawsuit filed over alleged radioactive contamination in Harvey

By Lizzy Fitzsousa | Jun 12, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – A mass action lawsuit involving alleged contamination of a Harvey neighborhood has been filed on behalf of hundreds of property owners.

The suit involves a property referred to as the Grefer Tract, on which oil field pipes and equipment was allegedly cleaned and repaired for nearly 40 years. The resulting contamination has caused cancers and stillbirths, according to the plaintiffs. The suit is one of several filed after the 1997 case Grefer et al v. Alpha Technical et al which awarded $56 million to remediate the 33-acre parcel as well as punitive damages in the amount of $1 billion. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana later reduced the punitive award to $112 million.

A total of 465 plantffs filed suit against Joseph Grefer, Camille Grefer, Rose Marie Grefer Hassi, Henry Grefer; the co-owners of property between Fourteenth Street and Pailet Avenue in Harvey, Exxon-Mobil Corporation, Intracoastal Tubular Services, Alpha Technical Services, Chevron USA, Inc, ConocoPhillips Company, Inc., BBP America Production Company, Atlantic Richfield Company, OXY USA, Inc., Placid Oil Company, Marathon Oil Company, Transco Exploration Company, Homeco, Inc, Mobil Exploration & Producing Southeast, Inc., ConocoPhillips Company, SWEPL LP, Andarko US Offshore corporation, Shell Oil Company, Shell Western E&P, Systems Fuels, Inc., Texaco, Inc., Union Oil Company of California, and Tubular Corporation in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court in March.

According to the suit, the petitioners are present or former residents of Jefferson Parish or at some point worked in the area near Grefer Tract. The defendants named in the suit were involved in using the property to clean, maintain and repair used oil field pipes and equipment from 1953 through 1992. The pipe cleaning operation allegedly contaminated the property with highly toxic, hazardous, carcinogenic and poisonous materials. The suit says the operation contaminated the air, land, ground water, top soil, subsoils, food, neighborhoods, and petitioners. The contamination caused cancer, still births, miscarriages, tumors, death, and other health hazards.

The suit further alleges the defendants knew or should have known field equipment and pipes were contaminated and claims their conduct was reckless, willful, wanton, intentional, and deliberate and deleterious to the rights, safety, health and well-being of the plaintiffs.

The defendants are accused of negligently dumping "Technologically Enhanced Radioactive Materials" (TERM) on the land, creating and maintaining a nuisance, intentionally and deliberately failing to warn petitioners and community of the health hazards that are caused by TERM, trespassing on the private property of petitioners and community by allowing toxic TERM to pollute the air, water, ground, subsurface, and underground water supply and the petitioners private property, intentionally failing to take proper, necessary measures to prevent a hazardous toxic substance from contaminating the petitioners, failing to take proper necessary action to prevent known foreseeable risks of harm, ignoring hazardous conditions and warning of possible and probable casualty and loss, failing to comply with industry standards, statutes and regulations, failing to discover that TERM were polluting Harvey and failing to take proper necessary appropriate action to remove the TERM from the community after learning of its existence.

The plaintiffs are suing for damages including diminution of property values, removal of contaminants from property, relocation and purchase of new homes, medical monitoring for harm which petitioners will suffer in the future, fear of contracting illnesses associated with TERM, emotional pain and suffering, punitive and exemplary damages.

The plaintiffs are represented by George F. Riess ESQ of George F. Riess & Associates LLC.

Case is assigned to Division J Judge Paula A. Brown.

Case no. 2014-02229.

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