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Businesses Blame Refinery for Flood ‘Muck’

(CN) - Refinery workers recklessly left open an oil tank valve at a refinery while evacuating during a flood, causing a 90,000-gallon crude oil spill that covered downstream east Coffeyville in "toxic muck," Kansas business owners say in Federal Court.

In a lawsuit against Coffeyville Resources Refining and Marketing, three businesses in Coffeyville, Kan., claim that the environmental disaster "resulted in substantial downtime and loss of profits."

Weather reports the previous day warned the oil refinery of the imminent July 2007 Verdigris River flood, so it should have been prepared for the evacuation, the lawsuit states.

The Environmental Protection Agency found that the oil sheen spread 10 miles downriver, the suit claims, and testing of the muck showed the presence of toxic substances including carcinogenic benzene.

The businesses demand more than $3.2 million in actual damages, plus unspecified punitive damages.

Plaintiffs Gregory Vowell, doing business as Manufacturing, JC Pump Co. and J.D. Cook Inc. are represented by Randall Rathbun of Depew Gillen Rathbun & McInteer in Wichita, Kan.

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