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Village of Roxana, Ill. files suit over contamination from oil refinery

(Art Chimes)
A view of the Wood River Oil Refinery in Roxana, Ill. The Village of Roxana filed suit today in relation to contamination from the refinery.

The Village of Roxana, Ill. filed suit today over contamination from the Wood River Oil Refinery.

The suit against Shell Oil, ConocoPhillips, and WRB Refining alleges damage to village property from chemicals that have spilled or leaked from the refinery.

Derek Brandt is the lead attorney on the case for the Simmons Firm, which has joined Roxana Village Attorney James Schrempf in the suit.

Brandt says Shell’s own testing shows that benzene and other toxic chemicals have contaminated village property, including streets, ground water, and the Public Works Yard.

“In several locations where they’ve sampled groundwater and done soil vapor sampling, the concentrations of benzene that they came up with were tens or hundreds of thousands of times the maximum levels as allowed by Illinois law,” Brandt said.

Brandt says John Simmons, who started the firm, grew up in Roxana.

"So we've got a lot of ties to that community and certainly a number of our employees live, or have lived there, or have relatives that live there," Brandt said. "So this is something that hit pretty close to home when the village asked us if we would help look into the issue."

Brandt says he expects suits by private property owners to follow.

A spokesperson for Shell Oil said the company had not yet been formally served or provided with a copy of the lawsuit by late Tuesday afternoon. ConocoPhillips did not return a call seeking comment.

  • Here's a map of groundwater contaminated with benzene surrounding the refinery in Roxana. The map is from a Shell Oil Report and was compiled by contractor URS:

3Q10 Soil Vapor Report - Figure 5

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