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Workers say Exxon Mobil hid cleaning job’s radiation risk


Bloomberg News Jan. 19, 2010, 2:27PM


Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. energy company, hid the risk that workers cleaning used oil-drilling pipe were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, a group of workers claims in a trial that started today.

The workers, 19 former employees of Intracoastal Tubular Services, or ITCO, claim they were exposed to radioactive radium in the residue that built up in the pipes and are now afraid they may get cancer. The trial began with opening statements in state court in Gretna, Louisiana, across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. The workers claim Exxon knew as early as 1981 that the residue could contain radioactive material and warned no one for years. Exxon delayed disclosure to prevent federal authorities from reclassifying radioactive water it pumped from Mississippi wells as hazardous waste, the workers claim.

Similar lawsuits have been filed against oil and oilfield service companies including Shell Oil Co., Chevron USA Inc. and KBR Inc.

A trial against Shell Oil on these allegations is set for trial in May.

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