'Queer Eye' star Bobby Berk says Conoco contaminated family's water

'Queer Eye' star Bobby Berk says Conoco contaminated family's water
© Getty Images

Bobby Berk, one of the stars of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” on Sunday revealed that his father had been diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time and suggested it was linked to his family's water supply, which he claimed had been contaminated by Conoco, which is now part of ConocoPhillips.

The reality television star wrote on social media that the oil and natural gas giant had contaminated the well-water of his childhood home in Missouri with “propane, butane, methane and other chemicals that they irresponsibly stored in underground caverns.”

“We drank it for years without knowing as it gradually seeped in and we became nose numb to it,” Berk wrote. “It wasn’t until a friend came over, took a drink of water and instantly spit it out that we knew.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The interior designer from Mount Vernon, Mo., added that there were so many chemicals at one point, they could “actually light a glass of our water on fire.”

Berk shared a photo of him as a young boy wearing a Conoco-branded hard hat, adding that it was an attempt from the company “to buy us off to keep us quiet. “

“They may have manipulated my parents into signing an NDA, but I sure as hell didn’t,” Berk wrote.

View this post on Instagram

My father was diagnosed with cancer for the 4th time this week. @Conoco @ConocoPhillips contaminated the well-water of my childhood home with propane, butane, methane and other chemicals that they irresponsibly stored in underground caverns. We drank it for years without knowing as it gradually seeped in and we became nose numb to it. It wasn’t until a friend came over, took a drink of water and instantly spit it out that we knew. At that time there was so much in it that we could actually light a glass of our water on fire. Can I know for sure that this is the cause of my fathers cancer? No, but it very well could be, and it makes me scared for me and the rest of my families future health. PS... this hard-hat was one of the many ways they tried to buy us off to keep us quiet. They may have manipulated my parents into signing an NDA, but I sure as hell didn’t. The amount of people from that area I’ve watched die of cancer over the years is staggering. Far far higher than the normal rate. #waterpollution #pollution #corporategreed #millermo

A post shared by Bobby Berk (@bobbyberk) on

He added that the issue was documented by local news station KYTV around 1985. 

 

While he cannot be certain that his father’s repeat cancer diagnosis had anything to do with the contaminated water, Berk was “scared for me and the rest of my families future health.”

“The amount of people from that area I’ve watched die of cancer over the years is staggering,” Berk wrote. “Far far higher than the normal rate.” 

The Hill has reached out to ConocoPhillips for comment.

ConocoPhillips was created through a 2002 merger of two oil companies: Conoco Inc. and Phillips Petroleum Co. Phillips 66 was spun off in 2012 as a separate company.

The Houston-based energy company has been accused of causing contamination for decades and has settled several different lawsuits. 

Conoco Inc. agreed to pay $23 million in 1990 — one of the biggest settlements of its kind —  to buy 400 homes and compensate families who said its refinery in Ponca City, Okla., was giving them cancer.  

In 2015, a statewide California investigation found hazardous materials and waste law violations at more than 560 gas stations owned by ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Then-California Attorney General Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSeven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa Fracking ban could have unintended consequence of boosting coal Poll: Voters back Medicare expansion, keeping private insurance MORE, now a Democratic presidential candidate, said at the time that gas stations in 34 counties were affected. The companies reportedly failed to properly maintain underground gasoline storage tanks.

“Phillips 66 and ConocoPhillips failed to adequately monitor hazardous materials in large gasoline holding tanks, which endangered nearby water supplies,” Harris said in a statement. “This settlement holds Phillips 66 and ConocoPhillips accountable for this dangerous negligence and will ensure future compliance with environmental laws.”

The company agreed to a proposed settlement of $39 million for groundwater contamination charges brought by the state of New Jersey in May 2017, NJ.com reported

. Most recently, in May 2019, the company settled another undisclosed lawsuit with homeowners in northwestern Oklahoma City who accused ConocoPhillips of polluting their water supply with more chloride than the maximum amount recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a report from The Oklahoman

The lawsuit claimed that trees, flowers and other landscaping could not grow in the area because the soil was too polluted.

A ConocoPhillips spokesman reportedly said the company didn’t admit liability or responsibility in the settlement.