Shell Handles 4,000 Damage Claims from Oil Refinery Leak

November 28, 2005

A Martinez, Calif., Shell oil refinery leak that sprayed 150 gallons of oil over the downtown area could cost the company more than $1 million to clean buildings and vehicles.

As of Nov. 22, more than 3,500 claims had been made for vehicles and 500 claims for homes, according to Shell.

With cleanup costing $150 to $300 per car, the company could spend $525,000 to $1.05 million on the vehicles alone. Costs for the home cleanups haven’t been determined yet, said Shell Spokesman Steve Lesher.

“It’s still too premature to foresee the total cost,” he said.

A mist of “oil slurry” covered several downtown neighborhoods after leaking from a catalytic cracking unit on Nov. 8. Shell officials claim the incident posed no health risks, although they’ve offered to foot medical bills for anyone affected by the mist.

Contra Costa Health Services also advised local residents to wash any outdoor items, such as children’s play toys and patio furniture, before they are used.

Janice Wells said the oil caused thousands of dollars in damage to her house, and that hasn’t been reimbursed yet. She already took her car in to be washed, but it didn’t get rid of all the damage, she said.

“It’s really hard to get that stuff off,” Wells said Friday. “I have to take it in again.”

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