You are a St. Bernard resident. You lived inside the Murphy Oil spill zone. You want to come back to your home and rebuild. You don’t want to come back to your house if it is hazardous to your health.
There is a class action lawsuit filed (pdf) against Murphy Oil on behalf of all the residents in a court determined spill zone (pdf). Murphy Oil has offered (pdf) to test homeowners’ homes inside a smaller spill zone they determined and clean the homes if oil is detected, provided the homeowner opt out of the class action lawsuit. Otherwise, no resident inside the court determined spill zone can legally contact Murphy Oil if they are still involved in the lawsuit.
Do you opt out so you can get cleaned up and get back quick? Or do you participate in the class action lawsuit which could drag on for years and ultimately be unsuccessful?
If you opt out and come back quick, you may be the only person to do so on your block. You might be living on an island of oil-free land surrounded by houses which haven’t been cleaned because the owners don’t plan to opt out. When it rains, contaminated runoff may flow into your yard and when cars drive by contaminated dust may be kicked up and into your breathing space.
If you don’t opt out, you slow down the overall recovery of the spill zone. Nothing can happen until the area is cleaned up. The parish can’t do it because they can’t clean hazardous materials. The cost of cleanup to the individual would be too high. For every year the class action suit drags on, the rebuilding of the spill zone will be delayed. Meanwhile, the entire parish must deal with the threat of contamination spreading through runoff or floods.
A tough choice in the land of tough choices.