The Young FirmJones Act CasesBenzene-Related Cancer in the Maritime Industry

Benzene-Related Cancer in the Maritime Industry

Benzene is a dangerous cancer-causing chemical that can harm maritime workers, particularly those working on chemical tankers.

Long-term benzene exposure in the maritime industry can adversely affect your health in several ways. Additionally, when the chemical is inhaled over a long period of time, as can happen to maritime workers who work around cargo containing benzene, serious health problems may arise. If you’ve been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other benzene-related cancers and illnesses, you could have a possible Jones Act injury claim. Call us to discuss this. 

Benzene & Side Effects

Benzene was first linked to cancer in the late 1920s and is used throughout many industries in the United States. The maritime industry is no exception and many workers are in danger of benzene exposure. Tankermen on chemical barges are, particularly at risk. Symptoms of short-term benzene exposure are acute and debilitating but generally go away as soon as you get away from the chemical. However, if you are exposed often enough and long enough, the long-term effects of chronic exposure are extremely harmful, even life-threatening.

What is Benzene?

Benzene, a known carcinogen, is a chemical that is commonly used in the manufacturing of petroleum products such as gasoline, solvents, and crude oil.  Benzene is also used to make other chemicals that are found in the following products: 

  • synthetic fibers
  • nylon
  • resins
  • pesticides
  • detergents
  • plastics
  • dyes
  • various kinds of rubber
  • lubricants
  • drugs

Benzene begins as a yellow liquid but quickly evaporates into a sweet-smelling gas. Barges routinely transport products that contain benzene such as xylene, toluene, gasoline, and jet fuel. It’s not uncommon to find varying amounts of benzene in petroleum cargoes including

  • gasoline
  • reformates
  • gasoline-blending components
  • naphtha
  • turpentine substitute
  • special boiling point solvents
  • crude oil
  • white spirits

Long-term Benzene Exposure

Long-term benzene exposure has been linked to several kinds of cancer and other serious illnesses. The time from chronic benzene exposure to onset of symptoms, known as the latency period, is extremely long, so you may not intuitively connect your diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other serious illness to benzene exposure, but it is important to see a doctor and document your exposure and your diagnosis. Doing so may enable you to receive compensation for damages (lost wages, cost of your medical treatment and suffering) under the Jones Act.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL)

Non-Hodgkin’s is a cancer of the lymph system that has been linked to benzene exposure. NHL arises in the lymphatic system and causes the following symptoms:

  • painless, swollen lymph nodes
  • fatigue
  • abdominal swelling
  • fever
  • night sweats 

Though Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma begins in the lymphatic system, left untreated, the cancer will spread to other parts of the body. Without proper diagnosis and care, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is fatal.

Many able-bodied seamen and tankermen worked on oil tankers and were regularly exposed to benzene years ago but are just now being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Chronic exposure to benzene may have caused changes in these workers’ chromosomes, which lead to this type of lymphoma.

Other Benzene-Related Cancers and Illnesses

In addition to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, benzene exposure has also been linked to several other kinds of cancer and diseases including

  • acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) 
  • bladder cancer
  • multiple myeloma
  • some kidney cancers
  • myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)
  • aplastic anemia (AA)
  • damage to reproductive organs
  • harm to developing fetuses

It is important to remember that only certain types of cancer/illnesses have been linked to benzene, so if you are unsure whether your diagnosis qualifies, contact us

Short-Term Effects of Benzene Exposure

Even short-term exposure to benzene is extremely harmful. Breathing in excessive levels of benzene can cause the following symptoms:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • headache
  • rapid heart rate
  • confusion
  • tremors
  • unconsciousness

Benzene Latency Period

The time from exposure to a harmful substance to the onset of symptoms is known as the latency period. Because the latency period for benzene exposure is so long (5-15 years), seaman diagnosed with these illnesses may not think that their illness is related to benzene exposure. However, anyone who has been exposed to benzene for a year or more is at risk for its long-term, harmful effects. Even if it’s been many years since you were exposed to benzene, your illness may be a result of benzene exposure.

Benzene in the Maritime Industry

Vessels that are used for transporting liquid compounds which can pose a serious threat to the environment are often referred to as IMO III vessels. As of 2016, IMO III vessels accounted for over 50% of North America’s Chemical Tanker Shipment.

Working on vessels or chemical tankers that transport chemicals or benzene-containing products can pose serious risks to your health. If you’ve already been diagnosed with an illness linked to benzene exposure and you worked in the maritime industry, you may be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act.

Because it can take many years for benzene to make someone sick, you may not think your illness is due to benzene exposure. In order to help you think through your possible risk exposure, the below information provides you with a list of maritime companies that transport chemical, petroleum, crude oil products so you can be aware of your potential exposure while you’re working.

It also names specific vessels that have been involved in maritime incidents, some of which include bodily injuries as well as oil spills. If you’ve worked at one of these companies or on any of these vessels for long periods of time, you could be at risk for benzene-related cancer

Finally, it reviews several cases that have been filed against maritime companies due to benzene-related health problems.

Exposure Risks for Maritime Workers

Working in the maritime industry can put you at increased risk for illness or death.

Researchers studying Norwegian seaman showed that those who worked on tankers carrying oil, oil products, and other chemicals had over twice as high a mortality rate as their land-working counterparts of the same age. These seamen died from two main issues: accidents and cancer. These studies show that seaman, especially those who work closely with benzene-containing cargo are more likely to get these life-threatening cancers:

  • Lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Lung cancer
  • Tracheal cancer

In addition to increased cancer risk, one study found that exposure to benzene changes the chromosomes of sperm and can lead to infertility or problems with pregnancies.

The risks from benzene exposure are real and well-documented. Therefore, it’s smart to take them seriously if you’re a maritime worker on a tanker or other chemical transportation vessel.

Maritime Workers Exposed to Benzene

While anyone on board a benzene-containing vessel can be exposed to this carcinogen, tankermen, who work on and near tank barges, are most likely to come into contact with benzene when they inspect, load, pump, or connect the tanks onboard the barge. Certain other jobs aboard chemical & petroleum tankers could have greater exposure to benzene, some of these positions include

  • Barge worker
  • Barge cleaner 
  • Able-bodied seaman (AB Seaman)
  • Able-bodied tankerman (AB Tankerman)
  • Deckhand
  • First mate
  • Mate 
  • Relief master
  • Relief mate
  • Tugboat mate
  • Vessel master

Because benzene is found in products commonly transported by barges, any seaman or worker onboard a benzene-contaminated barge needs to be protected from exposure. Exposure is most likely to occur through inhalation. However, some exposure through skin contact is also possible. Any exposure to benzene can cause unhealthy side effects, but long-term exposure is particularly harmful. And you may not know you have an injury until many years in the future.

Monitoring for Benzene Exposure

These tank barges which carry benzene related chemicals are known as red flag barges.  Even with precautions such as tank cleaning and benzene monitors, the risk of benzene exposure still exists because benzene residue accumulates in the seams and bottoms of tanks. Mariners sailing on tankers are required to take Benzene tests with their yearly physicals. Over time the body absorbs Benzene and produces S-phenyl mercapturic acid (S-PMA) as a byproduct. This byproduct can show up as a positive on the Benzene tests.

Benzene levels should be monitored, and if they exceed 1 ppm (parts per million), workers must regularly wear personal protective equipment (a respirator) in order to prevent exposure and serious illness.

Where is Benzene Found on Vessels?

Most commonly located in the holding tanks of these vessels, putting maritime workers especially at risk, benzene’s fumes can be present in the seams and bottoms of the tanks. Benzene can also be found in the transmission and vent pipes.

Which Vessels Transport Benzene & Other Petroleum Products?

While harmful chemicals can exist on many kinds of vessels, the following vessels can have higher benzene exposure:

  • Petroleum Oil Tank Ships
  • Chemical Tank Ships
  • Petroleum or Chemical Carriers
  • Liquid Cargo Barges
  • Flat/Deck Barges
  • Liquid Bulk Tankers
  • Open Hopper Barges

Even if your company hasn’t been involved in a benzene lawsuit, if you’re employed by a company that is known to transport benzene-containing products, you could be at risk. Review this list of companies that transport chemicals and crude oil/petroleum (all known to contain benzene) to see if your company makes the list. 

Maritime Companies that Transport Chemical, Petroleum, Crude Oil

This data was pulled from the "WATERBORNE TRANSPORTATION LINES OF THE UNITED STATES" (WTLUS) Calendar Year 2016 Volumes 1 through 3 consolidated. Published October 2017. The original report was compiled under the supervision of the Institute for Water Resources U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Alexandria, Virginia.

CompanyAddressOperating LocalitiesNO-VesselsVessel TypeVessel Name
2-W TOWING, INC.P. O. Box 46, Houma, LA 70361Mississippi River and GIWW of Louisiana,Texas and Alabama1Push boatCAPT. WARREN
ALASKA TANKER COMPANY, LLC15400 Nw Greenbriar Parkway Suite A400, Beaverton, OR 97006Alaska and U. S. West Coast.4Petroleum or Chemical CarrierALASKAN EXPLORER
AMERICAN COMMERCIAL BARGE LINE LLCP. O. Box 610, Jeffersonville, IN 47130Inland Waterways915Open Hopper Barge or PetroleumACBL 211
AMERICAN PETROLEUM & TRANSPORT, INC646 Main Street, Port Jefferson, NY 11777Rivers, Bays, Sounds, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Area Waterways1Petroleum or Chemical CarrierCHANDRA B
AMERICAN PETROLEUM TANKERS, LLC9487 Regency Square Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32225Null6Petroleum or Chemical CarrierBAY STATE
ANDREW MARINE V, LLC101 Lee St., Vicksburg, MS 39180U. S. Inland Waterways1Push boat or PetroleumANDREW GOLDING
APEX TOWING CO.8235 Forsyth Blvd. Suite 400, St. Louis, MO 63105New Orleans, LA to St. Louis, MO; Houston,2M/V CHEROKEE
B & R TOWING, INC2233 Snowbird Dr., New Orleans, LA 70058Mississippi Riverand Gulf Intracoastal Waterway1TugboatMISS KIM
BETTER WAY LOGISTICS LLC561 E. Western Avenue, Muskegon, MI 49442Great Lakes1TugboatMICHIGAN
BLESSEY MARINE SERVICES, INC.1515 River Oaks Road E., Harahan, LA 70123Intracoastal Waterway (Texas to Florida); Lower60Push boatBEN STRAFUSS
BMO HARRIS EQUIPMENT FINANCE COMPANY11 North Water Street Suite 18290, Mobile, AL 36602Null1Petroleum or Chemical CarrieSULPHUR ENTERPRISE
BOSTON MARINE TRANSPORT, INC256 Marginal St.;p. O. Box 492, East Boston, MA 02128New York to Maine2TugboatPINUCCIA
BUFFALO MARINE SERVICE, INC.P. O. Box 5006, Houston, TX 77262-5006TX to Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and Tributaries21Push boatCJ STUDDERT
C S S ATLANTA, INC.P. O. Box 1360, Gonzales, LA 70707Mississippi RiverBaton Rouge to New Orleans1Push boatCSS ATLANTA
CANAL BARGE COMPANY, INC. 835 Union St. Suite 300, New Orleans, LA 70112-1469Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and Mississippi River System28Push boatBULL CALF
CAPT. HARD TOWING, LLCP. O. Box 2259, Dayton, TX 77535Houston Ship Channel andSurrounding River Harbors.1TugboatCAPT. HARD
CAPT. JIM TOWING, LLC P. O. Box 2259, Dayton, TX 77535Houston Ship Channel.1TugboatCAPT. JIM
CARLINE’S GEISMAR FLEET, INC.P. O. Box 1360, Gonzales, LA 70707Mississippi River Baton Rouge to New Orleans.2Push boatCSS ARKANSAS
P. O. Box 2617, Houma, LA 70361Caruthersville, MO to Memphis, TN on Lmr; Catoosa,34Push boatALBERT CENAC
CENAC, AL TOWING, LLCP. O. Box 1791, Houma, LA 70361Inland and Intracoastal Waterway2TugboatAL CENAC
CHEVRON SHIPPING COMPANY, LLC6101 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon, CA 94583-5177United States, WestCoast and Gulf Coast, Various Terminals2PetroleumCALIFORNIA VOYAGER
CONOCO PHILLIPS CO.600 N. Dairy Ashford, Ch-1062c, Houston, TX 77079-1175Valdez, AK to U. S. West Coast - Los Angeles5PetroleumPOLAR ADVENTURE
CPD ALASKA, LLC201 Arctic Slope Ave., Anchorage, AK 99518Yukon River and Tributaries;3Push boatAKU
1102 S. W. Massachusetts St., Seattle, WA 98134Alaska / West Coast2Flat/Deck BargeARCTIC CHALLENGER
CROWLEY PUERTO RICO SERVICES, INC.9487 Regency Square Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32225containered goods & construction materials. Operating Localites include:1PetroleumOHIO
CUMMINGS MARINE SERVICEP. O. Box 13262, Memphis, TN 38113Memphis Harbor (Idle).1Push boatOLE JOE
D J P MARINE, LLC2360 Fifth St., Mandeville, LA 70471Inland Waterways; Tenn-Tom; Giww6Flat/Deck BargeFMTA 115
DANIELLE MARINE TOWING VI, LLC15587 East Main St., Cut Off, LA 70345rimarily Houston,TX to Corpus Christi, TX 2Push boatCAPT. DAVE GUIDRY
ECHO TOWING SERVICE, INCP. O. Box 446, Baytown, TX 77522Intercoastal; Houston Ship Channel; Buffalo Bay5Push boatCAPT. TOM ECHOLS SR.
EMPTY BARGE LINES, INC.1980 Post Oak Blvd. Suite 1101, Houston, TX 77056Mobile,AL to Brownsville,2Push boatGROSBEC
ERIE ISLANDS PETROLEUM, INCP. O. Box 457, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456Put-IN-Bay, OH to Catawba Point, OH; Great Lakes1Petroleum or Chemical CarrierCANTANKERUS
FIVE M TRANS. CORP.5008 Old Federal Road, Louisville, KY 40207Louisville Harbor and Ohio River7Push boatGAIL ANN
FLORIDA MARINE TRANSPORTERS, LLC.2360 Fifth St., Mandeville, LA 70471Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and Mississippi, Black Warrior,27Push boatBELLE
FUEL BOAT HOLDINGS LLC2480 South Clare Ave, Clare, MI 48617Lake and River Harbors IN Vicinity of Chicago1Other TankerWILLIAM L. WARNER
GENESIS MARINE, LLC919 Milam St. Suite 2100, Houston, TX 77002All Inland and Western Rivers Waterway1Petroleum or Chemical CarrierAMERICAN PHOENIX
GOLDING BROTHERS MARINE, LLC101 Lee Street, Vicksburg, MS 39180All Western Rivers / Icw.12Liquid Cargo BargeGBL 1530
GRANDVIEW BARGE LINES, INC200 Speers Steet, Belle Vernon, PA 15012Ohio & Monongahela Rivers.3Liquid Cargo BargeJAR 4
H & S TOWING, INC.18584 W. Main St. (Galliano, La);p. O. Box 156, Golden Meadow, LA 70357Houma, LA1Push boatMISS EMILY
100 12th Street, Catlettsburg, KY 41129Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Mississippi17Push boatCANTON
P. O. Box 24005, Seattle, WA 98134New York / New Jersey East Coast.1TugboatHMS LIBERTY
HENRY MARINE SERVICE, INCP. O. Box 7650, Spanish Fort, AL 36577Tombigbee River5Push boatBEVERLY H
HIGMAN BARGE LINES, INC1980 Post Oak Blvd. Suite 1101, Houston, TX 77056Houston, Giww, New Orleans
84Push boatABERDEEN
P.O. Box 150809, Nashville, TN 37215Baton Rouge, LA -Houston;Catlettsburg
48Liquid Cargo BargeCHEM 3003
HORNBECK OFFSHORE SERVICES, LLC103 Northpark Blvd Suite 300, Covington, LA 70433Oceans and Gulf of Mexico2Petroleum or Chemical CarrieHOS BAYOU
HORNBECK TRANSPORT, LLCP. O. Box 326;27 Circle S Lane, De Witt, AR 72042Mile 116 Arkansas River and Lower Mississippi River
1Flat/Deck BargeHBK 2010B
INGRAM BARGE CO.4400 Harding Rd., Nashville, TN 37205Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and Cumberland139Push boatA. J. MORRIS
JAMES MARINE VESSEL CO4500 Clarks River Rd, P.O. Box 2305, Paducah, KY 42002-2305Cairo, IL to Knoxville, TN1TugboatJVESSCO 1
JAMES TRANSPORTATION, LLC4520 Clarks River Road, Paducah, KY 42003Cairo, IL to Knoxville, TN4Push boatJERRY MCNEIL
JAR ASSETS, LLC2360 Fifth St., Mandeville, LA 70471Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and Mississippi,2Push boatH. B. 1
K SHIP 3 LLC1 Bala Plaza East, Ste 600, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-1496U S Gulf.1Liquid Bulk TankerSEAKAY SPIRIT
KINDER MORGAN ARROW TERMINALS L. PP. O. Box 379, Ghent, KY 41045Ohio River From Markland Dam South to Madison1Push boatEDDIE B MARSH
3100 Penn City Road, Houston, TX 77015Houston and Baytown, TX.4Open Hopper BargeKMJ 1
KIRBY INLAND MARINE, LP55 Waugh Drive Suite 1000, Houston, TX 77007Gulf Intracoastal Waterway; Mississippi156Push boatACHILLES
KIRBY OFFSHORE MARINE HAWAII, LLC55 Waugh Drive Suite 1000, Houston, TX 77007Pacific U. S. Ports1Push boatLAVACA
KIRBY OFFSHORE MARINE OPERATING, LLC.55 Waugh Dr., Suite 1000, Houston, TX 77007Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean and Eastern U. S. Ports.11TugboatAMBERJACK
L & L MARINE TRANSPORTATION, INC.P. O. Box 931, Harvey, LA 70059Intracoastal Waterway West & East.4Push boatANGELA RAE
P. O. Box 9036, Houma, LA 70361Inland and Intracoastal Waterways43Push boatAMERICAN FREEDOM
15587 East Main Street, Cut Off, LA 70345Corpus Christi, TX to Panama City1Push boat
LYONDELL CHEMICAL COMPANYP. O. Box 4246, Houston, TX 77210-4246Houston, TX to Charleston, WV Via Mississippi9Liquid Cargo BargeCC 132
M/G TRANSPORT SERVICES, L.L.C.3838 North Causeway Blvd; Three Lakeway Center, Suite 3080, Metairie, LA 70002-8339Intracoastal Waterway; Mississippi and Ohio River System176Open Hopper BargeM/G 181
MAERSK LINE LIMITED2510 Walmer Ave Suite C, Norfolk, VA 23513Foreign2Petroleum or Chemical CarrierMAERSK ATLANTA
MARINE INLAND TRANSPORT, LLC6423 Collins Ave. #1804, Miami Beach, FL 33141Mississippi River, Ohio River, Mississippi River1Liquid Cargo BargeCBC 387
MARINE OIL SERVICE, INC.1421 South Main St., Norfolk, VA 23523Norfolk Harbor, Chesapeake Bay and Tributaries1Liquid Bulk TankerROLF WILLIAMS
Box 13262, Memphis, TN 38113Memphis, TN. 3Push boatMARINE DIAMOND
MARITIME PETROLEUM ASS0C., LLC2015 Sw 20th Street Suite 214, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315Intracoastal Waterways of Fort Lauderdale and Miami3Petroleum or Chemical CarrierDELIVERANCE II
17 Battery Place, New York, NY 10004New York Harbor and Tributaries1Crewboat, Supply, or Utility VesselPOINT COMFORT
MCALLISTER TOWING AND TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, INC.17 Battery Place, New York, NY 10004New York Harbor and Tributaries;1Push boat
MCKINNEY MARINEP. O. Box 3869, Baton Rouge, LA 70821Mississippi River, Gulf IntracoastalWaterway of Louisiana1Push boatMAC ANDREW MCKINNEY
MCKINNEY TRANSPORTATION LLCP. O. Box 3869, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-3869Lower Missippi River & Intracoastal Waterway.1Push boatJACKSON MCKINNEY
910 Sw Spokane Street, Seattle, WA 98134West Coast U.S.A. and Harbors and Tributaries1TugboatGRIZZLY
MORAN TOWING & TRANSPORTATION CO., INC.50 Locust Ave., New Canaan, CT 06840 New York Harbor, Long Island Sound, 21TugboatALICE MORAN
MOTHERSHEAD, RUSS ALLEN, TRUSTEE OF THE RUSS ALLEN MOTHER 26655 U. S. Highway 61;p. O. Box 1717, Cape Girardeau, MO 63702Mississippi River and Its’ Tributaries.2Flat/Deck BargeHBM 4512B
MURRAY AMERICAN RIVER TOWING1200 Maronda Way, Suite 100, Monessen, PA 15062 Allegheny, Kanawha, Monongahela10Push boatCAILEY MOORE
MURRAY AMERICAN TRANSPORTATION, INC.1200 Maronda Way, Suite 100, Monessen, PA 15062Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. 214Open Hopper BargeC 491
O’NEAL & SONS, INC.48 Main Street, Tenants Harbor, ME 04860-0295Between Eastport, ME and Cape Elizabeth, ME.1Petroleum or Chemical CarrierCAPT. RAY O’NEAL
OCCIDENTAL CHEMICAL CORPORATION ANDRIE INC561 E. Western Avenue, Muskegon, MI 49442Great Lakes.1TugboatSPARTAN
OLYMPIC TUG & BARGE910 Sw Spokane St.;p. O. Box 24006, Seattle, WA 98124Between the Boundaries of the Puget Sound11TugboatALYSSA ANN
302 Knights Run Suite 1200, Tampa, FL 33602U. S. Gulf; U. S. East Coast; U. S. West Coast14Petroleum or Chemical CarrierOVERSEAS ANACORTES
PHILADELPHIA POINT FLEETP. O. Box 1360, Gonzales, LA 70707Fleeting at Mile 182.5 Lower Mississippi River3Push boatCSS CHICORA
P. O. Box 109;ms 730, Valdez, AK 99686Prince William Sound, AK Between Port Valdez and Hinchenbrook Entrance.1Crewboat, Supply, or Utility VesselMINERAL CREEK 460
P. O. Box 99, Westwego, LA 70096-0099Mississippi River and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways8Push boatFREEDOM
REINAUER TRANSPORTATION CO. LLC1983 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10302New York Harbor, Long Island Sound25TugboatAUSTIN REINAUER
RIVER CITY TOWING SERVICES, INC.P. O. Box 1300, Denham Springs, LA 70727-1300Mississippi River, Upper Mississippi River, Illinois River16Liquid Cargo BargeFT 22
SAN JACINTO TOWING, INC.1802 Lafferty Rd., Pasadena, TX 77502Gulf Intracoastal Waterway of Louisiana1Push boatCAPT. BILL MANTLE
SAUSE BROS155 E. Market Ave., Coos Bay, OR 97420Pacific Coast, Hawaii & All Pacific Rim Ports. 1Crewboat, Supply, or Utility VesselHERMOSA
SEA CREST, LLC1345 Avenue of the Americas 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10022Ports IN the Contiguous U. S. A. and Caribbean.1Liquid Cargo BargeSEA CREST
SEABULK OFFSHORE, LLC7910 Main St. 2nd Floor, Houma, LA 70360All Major and Minor Ports Between Mobile2Crewboat, Supply, MICHAEL CROMBIE MCCALL
P. O. Box 13038, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316U. S. East, Gulf and West Coasts, Including Florida3Liquid Bulk TankerSEABULK ARCTIC
SEAJON LLC2200 Eller Dr.;p. O. Box 13038, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316Great Lake Ports and St. Lawrence Seaway.1Petroleum or Chemical CarrierCONSTITUTION
SEARIVER MARITIME, INC.Srm-Emb-4.119;p. O. Box 1512, Houston, TX 77251-1512Atlantic, Pacific Coasts and U. S. Gulf Coast.1Petroleum or Chemical CarrierS/R AMERICAN PROGRESS
SETTOON TOWING, L.L.CP. O. Box 279;1073 Hwy. 70, Pierre Port, LA 70339-0279Morgan City - Port Allen Route, Privately Owned Oil Field Canals19Push boatALBERT J. SETTOON
SLIDELL TOWINGP. O. Box 3869, Baton Rouge, LA 70821Lower Mississippi River and Intracoastal Waterway1Push boatCAJUN HUSTLER
SOUTHERN TOWING CO1874 Thomas Road, Memphis, TN 38134Mississippi River System and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway23Push boatBAXTER SOUTHERN
ST. TAMMANY PARISH DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT21489 Koop Drive Ste 7, Mandeville, LA 70471 Gulf Intracoastal Waterways and Mississippi, Black Warrior11Push boatA. B. YORK
TEXAS PETROLEUM INVESTMENT COMPANY5850 San Felipe Suite 250, Houston, TX 77057 Inland Coastal Waters of South Louisiana6 Crewboat, Supply, or Utility VesseMISS CAROLE
THE TUG CHERYL K., LLCP. O. Box 2804, Onalaska, TX 77360Intracoastal Waterways - Corpus Christi to Mobile1Push boatCHERYL K
THE TUG SARA K., LLC P. O. Box 2804, Onalaska, TX 77360Houston / Galveston and Houston Ship Channel Fleet1Push boatSARA K
TIDEWATER BARGE LINES, INC. P. O. Box 1210, Vancouver, WA 98666 Willamette, Columbia and Snake Rivers16Push boatBETTY LOU
USS CHARTERING, LLC399 Thornall Street 8th Floor;p. O. Box 2945, Edison, NJ 08837U. S. Gulf Load Ports to U. S.East Coast Discharge Ports2Chemical CarrierCHARLESTON
VANE LINE BUNKERING, INC 4925 Ft. Mifflin Road, Philadelphia, PA 19153 From Eastport, ME to Brownsville, TX; 1Crewboat, Supply, or Utility Vessel CHRISTIAN
VANE LINE BUNKERING, INC2100 Frankfurst Ave., Baltimore, MD 21226New York, Delaware River, Chesapeake Bay14Push boatALEXANDER DUFF
9487 Regency Square Blvd. N., Jacksonville, FL 32225 U. S. West Coast and Brinski, Columbia Primarily14Push boatGUS E
WARNER PETROLEUM CORPORATION 5431 West Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, MI 48209 Mile 5 of the Yazoo River Diversion Canal1Flat/Deck BargeFAUST 31
WATERFRONT PETROLEUM TERMINAL CO 5431 West Jefferson Ave (Detroit);2480 S. Clare Ave, Clare, MI 48617 Great Lakes Area1TugboatCOLOMA L WARNER
P. O. Box 1378, Greenville, MS 38702 Mississippi River - Greenville, MS Area3Push boatMAGGIE LEAVELL
WEST WIND TOWING, LLCP. O. Box 2259, Dayton, TX 77535Houston Ship Channel and Surrounding Areas1Push boatWEST WIND
WESTLAKE CA & O, A DIVISION OF WESTLAKE VINYLS, INC P. O. Box 527, Calvert City, KY 42029Gulf Intracoastal Waterway--Mississippi, Ohio1Liquid Cargo BargeWCAO 111
WESTOIL MARINE SERVICES P. O. Box 24005, Seattle, WA 98134 West Coast U. S. A. and Harbors2Push boatROYAL MELBOURNE
WHITETAIL VESSEL CO., LLC. 4500 Clarks River Rd; P.O. Box 2305, Paducah, KY 42002Cairo, IL to Knoxville, TN12Push boatADDI BELLE
910 S W Spokane St., Seattle, WA 98134Columbia & Willamette Rivers1Push boatSCOUT

USCG Marine Casualty & Pollution Data (2002-2015)

Another way to determine if you’ve been exposed to benzene is to consider vessels that were involved in a maritime casualty incident. While some exposure may happen in the course of regular transport if an accident happens on a vessel carrying benzene-containing products, the chances for exposure skyrocket.

According to USCG marine casualty data from January 2002 – July 2015*, the following vessels were involved in a marine casualty incident related to chemical exposure; some of them were involved in several incidents. Check the list below to see if you or loved one worked aboard one of these vessels. If you did, and you have been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, acute myelogenous leukemia or other benzene-related illnesses, you may be able to file a Jones Act claim.

Vessels Involved in Maritime Incidents January 2002 – July 2015

  • B NO. 95
  • MER 9
  • KIRBY 12600

* The Marine Casualty and Pollution Database contain data related to marine casualty investigations reportable under 46 C.F.R. 4.03 and pollution investigations reportable under 33 C.F.R. 153.203.  The data reflect information collected by U.S. Coast Guard personnel concerning vessel and waterfront facility accidents and marine pollution incidents throughout the United States and its territories.

Benzene-Related Maritime Lawsuits 

Employers are required to protect workers from exposure to benzene, and those which fail to do so are negligent. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a benzene-related illness, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, acute myelogenous leukemia and have worked in the maritime industry,  you should speak with a maritime lawyer. 

Several companies have been taken to court for benzene exposure resulting in serious illness or death. To provide you with some examples of past benzene cases, we’ve summarized a few of these cases below.  If any of these scenarios seem familiar to you, especially if you or a sick loved one has worked for a company named in benzene-related lawsuit, see if you are eligible to file a Jones Act Claim. Contact us for a free consultation.

Benzene Lawsuit Examples

Kirby Inland Marine (aka Dixie Marine/Hollywood Marine)

In 2001, two employees of Kirby Inland Marine filed a lawsuit claiming that benzene exposure made them seriously ill. Heath Knight and Thomas Ingerman both worked as tankerman for Kirby Inland Marine and were exposed to benzene in the course of their work. Knight was employed between 1987 and 1995, and Ingerman worked for Kirby Marine between 1993 and 1994. Both tankermen were diagnosed with cancer in the late 1990s — Knight with Hodgins lymphoma and Interman with bladder cancer. Both cancers have been linked to benzene exposure. Since the exposure was work-related, the plaintiffs sought damages under the Jones Act. 

El Paso Corporation, Coastal Tug and Barge, Inc., Exxon Mobil

In 2002, the family of seaman Frank Maggio filed suit against  El Paso Corp./Coastal Tug & Barge Inc. Mr. Maggio worked for Exxon Mobil as a seaman from 1964 and 1993, but he didn’t get cancer until 1999, when he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AMl). He died of the disease in 2001. Benzene exposure causes AML, and the seaman’s family claimed that he suffered long-term benzene exposure during his nearly 40 years as a maritime employee. They sought damages not to exceed $10 million.

BP Exploration and Production, Inc.

In 2015, several Louisiana plaintiffs filed suits against BP Exploration and Production citing benzene exposure as the cause of their illnesses. In 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig created a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As part of the clean up efforts, maritime workers were contracted as oil spill cleaners. These workers came into contact with crude oil by touching and inhaling the vapors. The crude oil in the spill contained benzene. Some seamen removed tar balls, skimmed oil off the surface of the water, or loaded/cleaned the cleaining booms; others captained the vessels which assisted in the clean up efforts. The workers suffered from different illnesses including acute renal failure, hemophilia, and skin and respiratory issues. Each of these issues has been linked to benzene exposure. In all cases, the seaman sought damages from BP under the Jones act including medical expenses and (in the case of the seaman who died) funeral expenses.

Manhattan Tankers Company Inc./Exxon Mobil Corporation

An even more recent case of benzene-related illness is that of Jose Vivas, a seaman and merchant mariner who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in 2017. Mr. Vivas worked as a seaman from 1968 to 1972. During this time, he was regularly exposed to cargos that are known to contain benzene such as cleaning solvents, liquid petroleum and fuel. In this Jones Act case, Mr. Vivas seeks to be compensated for medical expenses, physical and mental suffering, and earnings lost as a result of his illness. 

Were You Impacted by Benzene Exposure?

In each of the above cases, the plaintiffs were exposed to benzene while performing their duties as a maritime worker. Sometimes, as in the case of the BP oil spill, the exposure resulted from an accident at sea. In other cases, these workers came into contact with benzene as a matter of course. Keep in mind that while the oil spill occurred more recently, several of these plaintiffs were exposed upwards of 30 years ago. This is an important fact to remember because the long-term illnesses caused by benzene are extremely serious, and you might not immediately link the cancer to benzene exposure. If you are sick, and your company has already been named in a lawsuit for benzene exposure, you may want to contact us for a consultation.

Filing a Benzene Claim Under the Jones Act

If you are a maritime worker who has been diagnosed with a benzene-related illness, and you have been exposed to benzene on a red-flag barge, you may be eligible for a personal injury claim under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is federal legislation that protects seamen who are injured at work on a boat, barge, or vessel. Under the Jones Act, employers are required to create a reasonably safe working environment on vessels where seaman work. Failing to do so constitutes negligence and any on-the-job injuries that result from this negligence fall under the provisions of the Jones Act.

Part of ensuring a safe working environment means protecting workers on vessels from benzene. Benzene exposure is a type of toxic exposure injury and therefore, certain illnesses resulting from benzene exposure fall under the protection of the Jones Act. If you have been diagnosed with one of these illnesses and you were exposed to benzene, you may be eligible to file a Jones Act claim. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Can File a Benzene Jones Act Claim?

I’ve Been Diagnosed with Cancer. Should File a Claim?

In order to be eligible for benefits under the Jones Act, you or your loved one needs to first, be a maritime worker and second, be diagnosed with one of the illnesses to which benzene exposure has been linked. The first step you should take if you think you are experiencing benzene-related illness is to get properly diagnosed. Visit your doctor and make sure to tell your doctor you were exposed to benzene in your role as a maritime worker. Without a diagnosis, you cannot file a Jones Act claim.

Under the Jones Act, you may be eligible to receive compensation from damages that result from maritime-workplace benzene exposure. Medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, pain and suffering, and mental anguish are all covered under the Jones Act, so act now if you think you are eligible to file a claim. 

If you think you are eligible to file a Jones Act claim, contact us for a free consultation. 

What’s the Statute of Limitations for a Benzene Claim?

I’ve been retired for a long time, I was exposed to benzene years ago. Can I still file a Jones Act claim? 

Yes, normally the statute of limitations is three years, however, because of the latency period of these illnesses, these kinds of cases can still be filed.

When Can I File for a Benzene Claim?

I’ve worked around a lot of benzene. Can I file for a Jones Act claim before I’ve been officially diagnosed? 

No, in order to prove your case, you’d need to prove that you’re currently injured or ill. Unless you’ve been showing symptoms, it would be difficult to prove that you’ve suffered damages.

Can I File a Jones Act Claim for Acute Exposure to Benzene?

I was exposed to benzene yesterday at work, and felt dizzy, do I have grounds for a claim?

Probably not, unless being exposed to the chemical made you hurt yourself in some other way, the symptoms you experienced were temporary and not grounds for a case. You would need to have long-term exposure (a year or more). However, if you are experiencing side effects from benzene exposure, you need to tell your employer immediately and get protection from benzene at work. The longer you are exposed to benzene, the more likely you could experience a serious long-term health problem.

Can I File a Claim if a Loved One Died from Benzene-Related Cancer?

My husband died after being exposed to benzene at work. Can I file a claim? 

Yes, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim or a Death on the High Seas Act depending on how and where your husband died. However, your husband’s death would need to be related to an illness to which benzene exposure has been linked.