Broussard family from Henry settles lawsuit with Chevron over contaminated land at Henry Hub Gas Plant
The battle between the big oil company and the small Cajun family is over after a settlement was reached Friday after 4:30 p.m..
The trial was expected to begin on Monday in Abbeville and last four weeks.
The settlement was reached between Chevro, HillCorp, who is now the tenant of the Henry Hub Gas Plant, and the Broussard family of Henry. Details of the lawsuit were not released.
When the Broussard family first filed the lawsuit 16 years ago, it was against Texaco and Sabine Pipe Line, the tenants of the Henry Hub at the time. The lawsuit was filed because the Broussard family learned their land in Henry may have been contaminated by tenants of the Henry Hub and pipelines that run across the Broussard property.
“Although I can’t reveal details due to a confidentiality agreement, I can assure you that the family,” said Warren Perrin, who was leading the Broussard family in its legal fight, “is very, very happy with the results This is a major step forward for cleaning up the environment around the Henry Hub plant and protecting the water aquifer which includes area beneath Abbeville. We still have several other cases pending in the area. This ends nearly 16 years of litigation among Hillcorp, Texaco/Chevron and the heirs of Arisdide and Leontine Broussard.”
Perrin, a lawyer from Erath, is one of 100 heirs of Aristie Broussard, who purchased 3,000 acres in the parish at the end of the 19th century.
Broussard used the land for farming.
In 1942 Texaco leased an 80-acre plot on the Broussard property for 75 years, at a rent of $1,600 a year. The company also promised jobs for Aristie’s grandsons.
Many family members did not know what was going on to the land. They saw some places in the pasture where grass did not grow.
Aristide Broussard hired environmental experts, who found saltwater pits on the property, countless aluminum pellets and radioactive material.
In a lawsuit, the Broussards argued that the contamination was so bad that Texaco had breached the lease and that they would try to kick the company off the property unless it was cleaned to their standards.
Less than a month later, the family received a surprise: Sabine, a company that seemed completely unrelated to the contamination suit, offered the Broussards a little under $1 million to buy most of the land in question. If the offer was not accepted, the letter said, Sabine would expropriate the land and pay the family the fair market value.
The Broussard family knew that in 1990 Sabine began managing the Henry Hub, an interchange of gas lines so crucial that it is where the prices are set for natural gas futures based on the traffic there. What the family did not know is that part of this hub had migrated onto their property. And they are still unsure of just how much of it is on their property.
The Broussard family discussed the offer with Sabine, but they could not agree on a price. Assuring Sabine that they had no intention of disrupting its operation of the pipelines, the family members declined to sell. The day before Thanksgiving of 2011, Sabine sued to take over the property.
Last year the Broussard family and Sabine settled that lawsuit.