BAYOU VISTA — A Bayou Vista family is seeking $1 million in a lawsuit against Marathon Petroleum and the manager of the Galveston Bay Refinery to cover damages they claim are from a white, powdery catalyst substance leaked from a refinery in January. 

Heather and Gary Crich filed the lawsuit, both as individuals and for two unnamed minors, in Galveston County’s 212th District Court. The lawsuit contends the family has suffered damage to their property, and physical and mental pain. The lawsuit also claims the Criches suffered a “loss of their spouses consortium and household services.” 

In the lawsuit, the Criches, who live in Bayou Vista, claimed Marathon Petroleum and Ray Brooks, manager of the company’s Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, were negligent and responsible for the release of about 128,500 pounds of catalyst from the refinery on Jan. 13. The catalyst is known as spent fluid catalytic cracker catalyst and is comprised primarily of silica sand and aluminum oxide.

The company has stated in the past that while an irritant, the substance is nonhazardous. 

Residents in cities south and west of Texas City noticed the catalyst after the spill in January. At that time, the company offered to wash cars and homes covered in the substance and told residents to avoid direct contact with the catalyst on skin and in eyes. A fact sheet prepared by an environmental consultant for Marathon Petroleum also recommended discarding any food that came in contact with the catalyst. 

The company also offered residents $400 cash cards to clean their own properties.

The lawsuit states that the Criches attempted to clean their property by “hydroblasting the material into the canals.” 

But the lawsuit claims the family’s property was damaged and they have suffered “personal bodily injuries requiring medical care and treatment, mental and physical pain and suffering, mental anguish in the past and which is expected to continue into the future.” 

According to the lawsuit the Criches also suffered a loss of their spouse’s consortium — “affection, solace, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, sexual relations, emotional support, love and felicity,” — and household services — “the performance of household and domestic duties by a spouse to the marriage” — that the lawsuit states is “a mutual right of a husband and wife.” 

Neither the Criches nor their attorney, Alton Todd, responded to requests for comment. Marathon Petroleum also declined to comment. 

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or


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(25) comments

Roy Hughes

crazy. how come they did not sue mother nature after ike?

Andrew Ferguson

This is just yet more "fine citizens" trying to seek an easy payday from the petrochemical industry. They figure they have the deep pockets and will pay out to avoid going to court. Sounds like a failed marriage where they are trying to blame other people instead of their own short comings.

Keith Hoogterp

According to the lawsuit the Criches also suffered a loss of their spouse’s consortium — “affection, solace, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, sexual relations, emotional support, love and felicity,” — and household services — “the performance of household and domestic duties by a spouse to the marriage” — that the lawsuit states is “a mutual right of a husband and wife.”

This would be funny if it wasn't so stupid. Really? Maybe it's time we closed some law schools if they are producing attorneys that would even file a suit this frivolous.

Rusty Schroeder

I am amazed Alton Todd is part of this nonsense, he surely doesn't need the money.

Joel Martin

Hopefully they will get a jury like the last one that tells them no luck with the insurance lottery.

Daisy Harris

Honey I'm sorry we can't have sex today but it was dusty outside three months ago. Geez this is total BS.

PD Hyatt

I hope that if a judge does not toss that out, then some very smart people get placed on that jury and they listen well and then vote tough luck you are not going to hit the lottery.... The lawyer is nothing better than buzzbe as they are out to suck out as much money as they can from everyone that they can....

Stephen Murphy

Boo hoo...

They should be sued for “hydroblasting the material into the canals.”

George Croix

Only 43,999 to go.......sign money in benzene, but maybe we can get a settlement for sand and aluminum powder.
Sur for a million. Try to settle for 100grand or even 50. Lawyer gets 40% - walk of with 20 to 30 grand in pocket. Buy a lot of therapy sessions for that....
The folks in Dallas wanting to get back in on the lawsuits would have to claim they were visiting Bayou Vista that day, but why not take a shot and go for it.....

Having been completely covered with the exact same stuff dozens of tiems, I can personally attest that it never harmed my consorting....... [beam][beam]
Wife DID make me shower first..........[whistling]

George Croix



Close enough.....

Keith Hoogterp

Listen up, ladies. I'm selling 5 lb. bags of silica and aluminum powder. Just sprinkle it outside in your yard and it will calm that over amorous man of yours. For just $150, you can have quiet evenings all to yourself. He doesn't even have to come in contact with the dust. His libido is deadened by the dust's magical powers. Remember, that's CRZYTXNs Consortium Reducer. Call now and get a 2 lb. bag of CRZYTXNs Household Duty Interrupter FREE!


So sad it's comical. Love reading the comments. I needed a laugh today. Thanks!

Dwight Burns

As a retired Cat Cracker Operator, I can say, this law suit is bull.

PD Hyatt

I agree.... I too retried from the Cats and what they are suing for is just plain stupid. I can not believe that a lawyer actually took this case....

Louis Wortham

This lawsuit is not bull.

The tons of crap that Marathon wouldn't act to avoid letting spill into the wind has had significant health effects on people in this community. The Galveston County Health District has been tracking the health effects of Marathon release.

In addition to the effects on people, pets were sickened, birds died, and I don't know whether the negative effects on West Bay and it's marine life have been documented yet or not.

It's well documented that Marathon declined to bring this old unit up to environmental snuff in the months prior to this release, knowing that it's continued operation was dangerous.

If this goes to trial, you may be surprised at the quality of the medical testimony directly and undeniably attributing peoples' health issues to exposure to Marathon's industrial waste.

Alton Todd brought this lawsuit because it has merit. I hope that it (and perhaps other suits) costs the sleazey cheapos over at Marathon enough to make it cheaper to operate their refinery in a responsible way in the future.

PD Hyatt

Being a retired Cat Cracker I for one say you do not know what you are talking about when it comes to the catalyst that they use out there at Marathon. If you were to breathe a lot of it for years there might be a problem, but they had a 1 time dusting of this stuff and trust me if there is something going on to stop the man and wife from getting together it is NOT from the catalyst dusting that they got....This entire lawsuit is pure junk.... Thankfully Judge Criss is no longer there to make her progressive rulings....

Pooner Jonez

This was from CAT III, not the older CAT I (the rats and supervisors have not figured out how to run that old turd)

George Croix

43, 998 to go.......

Joel Martin

So mojo, when are you filing?.

George Croix

More 'legal claims' that are pure BS.......
Add them to the 4000 or so above those actually killed or injured from the isom event......
It remains to be seen if Marathon will pay 'settlement' money as easily as BP did right up to the 'benzene release' when they finally got tired of paying phonies to scam them.
If Marathon does, or the second iteration of the Durst jury hears the cases, then Round Two of 'Who'll Buy The Place Now' can get started ......[whistling]

Evidently, shame is in shorter supply than chromium and helium these days....

Craig Mason

You are missing the bottom line. Lawsuit or not Marathon shouldn't be dumping catalysts on its neighbors. Good bad or indifferent a good refiner should keep its products and waste material inside the pipes. There was another dusting from the other cat cracker last weekend that went over LaMarque. Marathon was a little more proactive in reporting that one. I think the people in Bayou Vista were mostly pissed over the fact that the citizens had to report it to the aithorities instead of Marathon self reporting. Whether the lawsuit has merit or not, the bottom line is don't dump crap on your neighbors in the first place and be a good neighbor period. Oh and one other little fun fact. It is against city ordinance in Bayou Vista to dump anythng in the canals including yard trimmings, so I would think catalyst shouldn't be washed into the canal either.

George Croix

While you are basically correct and I fully agree, Craig, that a refinery should not let catalyst get loose, or anythign else for that matter, you also know as I do that it is not done on purpose, and that process upsets are not planned and that safety systems may well release some materials versus having things get a lot worse on the unit in upset. You and I have both worked our but_s off at times trying to prevent such things or similar, but could not be successful every time.
You also know, like I do, that if the silica/alumina catalyst actually caused the type of 'harm' that this rediculous lawsuit claims, you and I and nearly everybody we worked with would have long ago been dead or invalided ....or divorced....from the effects of it......[smile]
I could not agree more that Marathon should have been the first to do the reporting. Unless they no longer have a P&GA person or environmental department or even security department, there's little if any reason why it was not. This is hardly the same as some RV leaking a little intermittently that's hard to find/notice.
Mr. Hyatt is exactly correct about it in his assessment of acute exposure......

Hope things are going as well as can be expected with you, Craig......

Jeff Smith

If this release causes a lack of spousal support.... I think we would have heard a whole lot of barking from the plant operators long before now. Let's just close all these evil refineries and lose jobs, local businesses, and property taxes. Well done lawsuit people!

Mary Gillespie

Aluminum oxide is an ingredient in TOOTHPASTE and cosmetics. This suit is ridiculous - Alton Todd should be embarrassed he accepted it.

Andy Aycoth

They got cats and rats ? Thought this was a refinery not a paradise for animals ?

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