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Coffeyville Oil Spill Claims Office Opened Today

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A legal claims office opened today in Coffeyville, Kansas to assist victims of last month’s Coffeyville Resources Refinery oil spill. Several law firms involved in a class action lawsuit against the refinery and its owners have opened the office in an effort to reach out to Coffeyville residents affected by the spill.

The new office, located at 1505 West 8th Street, is staffed by Parker Waichman LLP, Hutton & Hutton Law Firm LLC, Neblett, Beard & Arsenault, Becnel Law Firm LLC, the Law Offices of Ronnie G, Penton and Lambert and Nelson, P.L.C. It will be open every day of the week except Sunday. The law firms plan to keep the office open through August 25, but if response is great enough, that date could change. The Coffeyville office can also be reached by calling 620-251-7775 or 620-251-7776.

The six law firms are representing many Coffeyville residents and business owners who suffered losses as a result of Coffeyville Oil Spill. On July 5, 2007, the firms filed a class action lawsuit against the owners of the Coffeyville Resources Refinery on behalf of a man who lost his home and business to the oil spill.

While preparing the Coffeyville Resources Refinery for an emergency shut down in anticipation of record flooding that was forecasted for the area, employees at the plant failed to shut a valve on one of the plant’s storage tanks. That failure allowed oil from that tank to continue to flow into a larger storage tank. The larger tank soon overflowed. As a result, between July 1 and July 2, 2007, more than 71,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from the Coffeyville Resources Refinery. The problem was not noticed for several hours. Due to the widespread flooding, the crude oil reached and damaged a very large area. More than 2,500 residents and businesses were displaced by the oil slick and “toxic soup” that made its way on the Verdigris River. In excess of 200 properties have been destroyed by the oil spill.

At a town meeting following the spill, attendees wondered why the refinery waited so long to shut down when it was well known that the flood was coming. Plant spokesman Steve Eames later told the Wichita Eagle that employees did their best to shut the refinery down. Eames clamed that a malfunctioning flood gauge upstream on the Verdigris River led the plant workers to believe they would have more time to shut down the refinery. But that day, the National Weather Service had issued other warnings that indicated record flooding was imminent

The economic effects of the oil spill could devastate the town of Coffeyville for years. Large companies, sole proprietors, and individuals alike stand to endure major economic losses from the spill. Exposure to crude Oil from the Coffeyville spill could also cause long-term health problems People living in the zone of an oil spill are often plagued by problems of the nervous system, blood and kidneys long after a spill has been contained. Crude oil contains numerous chemicals like benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that have been linked to cancers and birth defects.

Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the responsible party is liable for the costs associated with the containment or cleanup of the spill and any damages resulting from the spill.

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