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.