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Lawsuit filed over pipeline spill

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Exposed pipeline in Wisconsin during the repair process last week
Exposed pipeline in Wisconsin during the repair process last week

UNDATED (WSAU)   About 150 families in Washington County have sued the owners of a nearby pipeline that spilled almost 55,000 gallons of gasoline in mid-July. The landowners say they’ve suffered emotional problems and health effects like diarrhea and nausea, while their property values have gone down. Attorneys in Milwaukee and Baltimore are representing the families, who want a jury trial.

Among other things, they want a medical monitoring fund to screen residents for cancer. And they want the West Shore Pipeline Company and Buckeye Partners to pay punitive damages for not doing more to prevent the spill. Attorney Dan Rottier said the government warned as early as 1988 that pipelines like the one at Jackson used welding techniques that needed careful inspections, because they were subject to seam failures. He says the law firm will be asking for the companies’ maintenance records.

Patrick Hodgins of Buckeye Partners says they’re still working on cleaning up the spill, and talking with local officials on a long-term alternative to providing water to residents. As of yesterday, West Shore said excessive levels of benzene were still in 17-of-29 private water wells near Jackson – close to where the pipeline broke. The company worked immediately to fix problems with the water system, supplied bottled water, and paid for hotels for those who couldn’t use their drinking water.

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