If you or your family owns land which is currently being used or in the past has been used for oil drilling operations, or a pipeline carrying petroleum or natural gases, you may need to explore possible contamination of your land and property by those operations. You may have a right to have that property cleaned up and restored to its original condition and receive money compensation for damages to your land.
Below, is a discussion of the Corbello case, which dealt with oil field operations, but just as easily could have involved a leaking, busted or corroded pipeline. This case often is what many believe led to the coining of the term in Louisiana law, the "Legacy Oil field Case.”
Corbello concerned the various types of issues and damages which may result from imprudent oil drilling operations which are very similar to the types of damages caused by ruptured or leaking pipelines passing both under and over property.
The Corbello case's actual cited name is the "IOWA PRODUCTION, Shell Oil Company et al" case. It concerned the oil field contamination and cleanup claims of the owners of ten acres of rural land situated in Acadia Parish. The ten-acre property was the subject of a surface lease obtained by the oil company in 1955. The leases allowed the oil company to use the ten-acre property exclusively, for any and all purposes . . .
The lease also required the oil company to promptly restore the land to as near its former condition upon termination of the lease as possible. The lease expired on February 24, 2005. As is very often the case, the oil company failed to live up to its end of the lease agreement, or warn the land owners of the damage, contamination and wastes it had left upon the land. A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the landowners.
Ultimately the Louisiana Supreme Court, held that:
(1) the damages awarded were not limited to the land's market value but rather could be based on the amount necessary to restore the land to original condition as specified by lease;
(2) the evidence was sufficient to support award of $33,000,000 for failure to restore land to original condition, even though the land was only worth $108,000 in its restored condition;
(3) injury to water aquifer was not speculative;
(4) the land owners would recover the entire $33,000,000 award even though $28,000,000 of award was for potential aquifer contamination and land owners had no duty to restore premises to prevent aquifer contamination;
(5) the evidence was sufficient to support the finding that subsequent lease holders caused no damage to land and were therefore not partially liable for award;
(6) the landowner's cause of action arose upon termination of surface lease rather that at the time of the actual injury or contamination;
(7) prejudgment interest on the additional amounts due for the trespass resulting from the unauthorized saltwater disposal was the proper method to calculate the value of those damages; and
(8) attorney's fee award of $4,000,000 was reasonable.
"Louisiana Environmental and Oil Contamination Lawyers Simien and Simien, LLC has represented land owners against "Big Oil" companies.
These companies are big businesses and have the duty and the means to prevent harm to the lands they drill upon. They have acted both wantonly and with negligence at times. As such, oil companies which have caused pollution and contamination or environmental damages to family and personal property must be held accountable for their intentional and negligent acts which have caused damages to these lands. Our families have worked hard for this most precious of family resources, and we must fight to protect them.
Oil and gas drilling and exploration companies in many cases promised under their lease agreements that they would leave the land unharmed and returned or restored it to "original condition." These damages have visible and invisible signs and may result in claims to restore the lands, removal of left over oil field equipment and remediation of contamination from the soil and removal of salt water (brine) damage to land and drinking and irrigation water or wells.
In short, they promised to return the land free and clear from property contamination and waste. The Louisiana Oil and Gas lobby is one of the strongest in the state and these companies are powerful and strong opponents, but our teams have successfully taken them on before and we will continue to fight for justice and the right of Louisiana landowners.
Types of Oil Field Contamination Cases:
- Leaking pipelines and storage tanks
- Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM)
- Down Hole Claims causing the premature loss of Oil production because of imprudent drilling management and/or loss of well integrity
- Failing to line oil field waste pits and holding ponds
- Failing or refusing to clean up contamination at the end of lease period
- Pollution of the land or groundwater by dumping oil field waste from the various drilling sites
- Oil wells not correctly operated or shut down
- Leaks and spills of chemicals and saltwater (brine) used in oil drilling
Simien and Simien, LLC has experience in representing numerous clients for compensation and remediation or clean up of lands left polluted or contaminated as the result of the negligence of the oil companies, drilling operators, pipelines or other oil field contractors. We have the knowledge and resources to hire experts to prove costs and other types of damage claims.
Our experts have been recognized by the Louisiana Courts and are allowed to testify in various types of claims in the areas of economics, geology and oil field operations.
"Oil and Gas Production Wastes are geologic formations that contain oil and gas deposits and they also contain naturally-occurring radionuclides, which are referred to as "NORM" (Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials):
- uranium (and its decay products)
- thorium (and decay products)
- radium (and decay products)
Geologists have recognized their presence since the early 1930s and use it as a method for finding deposits (Ma87). Much of the petroleum in the earth's crust was created at the site of ancient seas by the decay of sea life. As a result, petroleum deposits often occur in aquifers containing brine (salt water). Radionuclides, along with other minerals that are dissolved in the brine, precipitate (separate and settle) out forming various wastes at the surface:
- mineral scales inside pipes
- contaminated equipment or components
- produced waters.
See also the New York times discussion of oil field radioactivity in Radiation Danger Found in Oilfields Across the Nation.
Fracking-Big Oil's Next Big Mess
Was your family or personal property once desired by "Big Oil" or land men acting on their behalf only to be drained to the point that they handed it down to successive lease holders. Eventually were you or your family told that the land was no longer economically feasible to drill upon, leaving you or your family to hold the bag. Are they now trying to tell you that they have a new way of drilling such as "Fracking,” "Hydraulics,” "Hydrofracking," "Fracturing,” or other means of getting the oil out?
Before you make that decision, make sure that you have someone on your side look at the condition of your land, with the knowledge and experience to locate and require "Big Oil " to remediate and clean up their historical drilling mess, thereby making sure that there are not further damages and waste to your land.
As noted by the US EPA, oil and gas drilling can expose the land to increased risk of radioactive exposure and contamination.
"Hydrofracked: One man's quest for answers about natural gas drilling,”
"EPA Connects 'Fracking' To Water Contamination"
"EPA Region 8, EPA Releases Draft Findings of Pavillion, Wyoming [Fracking] Ground Water Investigation"http://www2.epa.gov/region8/pavillion
Oil & Gas Exploration Contamination and Oilfield Legacy cases have involved the oil and gas exploration and production activities or leaking and corroded pipelines that lead to pollution or contamination of the soil, surface water or groundwater. Many times the historical damage will appear as dead areas in the land in which vegetation will not grow and when the water supply from the land appears to retard growth.
Historically, common oilfield practices used pits for the disposal brine and water and other oilfield waste was by placement in unlined disposal pits. Sometimes, companies also failed to dispose of these wastes and improperly injected them into the ground polluting the water aquifers, thereby making them unfit for irrigation and human consumption.
Brine water (which contains very high levels of salts and other minerals) and various gases and other hydrocarbons which are by-products of the extraction of crude oil or natural gas operations, often contains chemicals which are dangerous and harmful to crops, livestock and humans.
Consultations are free and there is no case cost, unless there is recovery. It is important that you call today because any delay can cause a loss of you or your family's rights to bring these claims to the Louisiana statute of limitations or changes in the law. Contact Simien & Simien, LLC today.