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Lawsuit Filed Against Valero Alleging Negligence For Corpus Christi Water Contamination

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A Corpus Christi attorney filed a lawsuit Thursday against Valero Energy Corporation and its refinery alleging negligence that led to the city’s water being contaminated by a corrosive chemical.

The suit came just one day after the city had warned its 320,000 residents not to drink or use the water for any purpose after a “back-flow incident” left the water contaminated with INDULIN AA-86. The chemical is an asphalt emulsifying agent that causes respiratory tract, eye and skin burns and can cause allergic skin reactions and organ damage.

Attorney Bob Hilliard, who is representing several Corpus Christi businesses in the suit, said in a statement that “this case demonstrates the human and societal suffering caused when the drive for corporate profits takes priority over the safety of ordinary people.”    

First Amended Petition and Tro-2 by Texas Public Radio on Scribd

Corpus Christi city officials have not said in three press conferences how long they anticipate residents having to avoid using the water but an emergency City Council meeting was also called for 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Another press conference was slated for after that meeting.City spokeswoman Kim Womack said for now, water is being trucked in on five semi-trucks that will be distributed at four sites around the city. Walmart, H-E-B and Stripes were all donating water to the city and Fed-Ex was delaying holiday deliveries to deliver water instead.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is coordinating with Corpus Christi officials, the EPA for Region 6 and the Health and Human Services Commission. The commission has also initiated several measures including water sampling to determine the extent of the potential impact.

​Results of that water sampling were delayed because the chemical identified was a proprietary one that required a non-disclosure agreement be signed in order for the patent holder to release the chemical's makeup, Womack said at press conference Thursday afternoon.

Valero has not yet responded.