The Iraqi youth’s family takes legal action against BP due to their son’s cancer-related death resulting from gas emissions from the company’s oil flares.

24 April 2024, Beirut Lebanon – The father of a 21-year-old Iraqi who died of cancer after years spent living next to constantly burning gas flares at British Petroleum (BP) oil field in Iraq has started legal action in the UK against BP seeking damages for his son’s death. 

Ali Hussein Julood died in April 2023 after a long battle with leukaemia. Before his death, Ali had documented his life for an investigation by the BBC with Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative unit, which found high levels of cancer-linked pollutants in the area around a BP oil field near Ali’s family home in southern Iraq.

A letter of claim, issued by the law firm Hausfeld & Co on behalf of Ali’s father, Hussein Julood, asserts that ‘Ali Hussein Julood’s death from leukaemia was caused by toxic emissions from the Rumaila oilfield’. BP became the lead contractor at Rumaila, one of the largest oilfields in the world, in 2009. 

According to the letter of claim, Ali, who was a keen footballer before being diagnosed with cancer at just 15, approached BP seeking compensation for his illness in 2020 and 2021, but was ‘met with silence’. The letter adds that Ali, a “passionate campaigner” for an end to gas flaring in Rumaila, tragically died six days before he intended to raise the issue at BP’s Assembly General Meeting. His father addressed the AGM via webcam in Ali’s stead.     

Greenpeace Middle East and North Africa calls for the international oil companies to be held accountable and bear their responsibility for all the damages and losses they caused to local communities in our region and pay the price for it. 

Julien Jreissati, Programme Director at Greenpeace Middle East and North Africa (MENA) stated: “This tragic case is a poignant reminder that fossil fuel giants like BP belong in the dock. The era of unchecked impunity is behind us; those responsible for the human suffering caused by the fossil fuel industry should be held accountable and forced to stop drilling and start paying.”

Maja Darlington, Campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Ali’s life was yet another tragically cut short by the fossil fuel industry’s ruthless pursuit of profit. Around the world, communities like Ali’s are facing deadly pollution, environmental destruction, and climate disasters that they did nothing to cause, while BP and the other oil giants make billions with no accountability whatsoever. 

“It would be utterly unjust were Ali’s family not compensated by BP for their loss, but no amount of money can bring back Ali or thousands like him who have died living in the fossil fuel industry’s toxic shadow in southern Iraq and beyond. Ali’s family joins a growing movement of individuals and communities standing up to Big Oil in court to demand justice. We now need our governments to force BP and the rest of the industry to stop drilling and start paying for the damage they are causing around the world.”

Gas flaring is the burning of gas released in oil drilling, which produces a number of cancer-linked pollutants including benzene. The practice has been blamed for a 20% rise in cancer in the southern Iraqi city of Basra between 2015 and 2018, according to a confidential report by the Iraqi health ministry seen by the BBC. 

According to an Unearthed analysis, in 2021 alone BP’s share of flaring emissions from the Rumaila field stood at 4.52 million tonnes CO2e, comparable to the annual emissions of over 970,000 petrol cars and almost double the flaring emissions of the entire UK oil industry the same year.


Notes to editors:

  1. Copies of the letter of claim are available on request.
  2. The full Unearthed investigation into gas flaring in Iraq, ‘Big Oil’s Dirty Secret’ is available here.

For media inquiries, please contact Hiam Mardini, Media and Communications Manager at Greenpeace MENA at +961 71 533 232, or [email protected]

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