In Court

common concern: A Montana jury ordered ChevronTexaco Corporation to pay us $40.3 million for environmental damage from a gasoline pipeline leak in 1955. The case is of potential concern for energy companies, which under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or the Superfund law, have been held responsible for leftover contamination at defunct refineries. ChevronTexaco, based in San Ramon, California, said it would appeal. The case concerns underground contamination at the old Sunburst Works refinery in Sunburst, Montana. Residents of Sunburst and the farming community's school district sued in 2001, claiming ChevronTexaco failed to adequately clean up the oil spill, and that leftover toxins were harming public health and property values. The company said it had pumped the ground clean for two years following the leak, and is still monitoring pollution levels. It also said there is "no health risk', an assessment state regulators have agreed with. Legal experts say this could lead to more lawsuits elsewhere, at least in Montana, which has more than 200 Superfund sites.

breathe easy: Ten South African gold miners suffering from silicosis have filed a test court case against mining giant Anglo American Plc. The miners contracted silicosis, a respiratory ailment, after breathing in excessive levels of dust over a protracted period.

The company will be asked to pay up to us $2.9 million for injury, pain and suffering, loss of earnings and medical expenses for the 10 men, said Richard Meeran, a consultant for Australian lawyers Slater & Gordon, who also specialise in asbestos cases. The total cost of the silicosis cases could be very high. According to the company, it had not received notification of a lawsuit, but would defend any filed regarding silicosis. "We do not believe Anglo American is liable, and we will defend any legal proceedings which are instituted against Anglo,' said spokeswoman Anne Dunn.