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UPDATED: ExxonMobil Refinery Fire, the Investigation Continues

Posted By Arnold & Itkin LLP || 18-Apr-2013

Yesterday morning in Beaumont, Texas, a flash fire at the ExxonMobil refinery started. Though the fire occurred in a unit that was closed down for maintenance, there were still a dozen workers who were injured by the flames. According to reports by local papers, four of the 12 victims are critically injured. The employees who were injured on the job were contract workers employed by various companies to work at the Exxon site. ExxonMobil released the various companies this morning which included Signature Industrial Services, Brock Services, LLC., and KT Maintenance.

Of the twelve total injured workers, reports show that seven of them were transported to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, UTMB; among these seven included the four critically injured workers. At this time two of the victims are listed as being in serious condition, likely suffering from extreme burn injuries from the fire. ExxonMobil has released much more information regarding the day's events just today and, according to their spokeswoman Kathleen Jackson, these contract workers were a part of the maintenance project in order to repair the processing unit at the time of the fire. Jackson claims that the fire was small and that it was contained even before emergency responders arrived at the scene of the accident.

Industrial fires are a common occurrence, especially in the state of Texas; however, Jackson shares that this type of incident is a rare occurrence in their Beaumont facility; as they have experienced fewer incidents than the average within the industry. ExxonMobil shares that they are working alongside the different contracting companies to make sure that all of the employees are receiving the medical care and treatment they need for their injuries. When interviewed, the vice president and general manager of Signature Industrial Services, Claude Wilhelm, claims that some of the injured workers were long time employees of their company. Wilhelm shares that they are focused more on the workers and their families, and while the investigation is essential that is not their focus at this moment; though they do intend to set up a benefit fund for the injured workers.

While little information has been released about the investigations, Jackson shares that the refinery employs 1,200 employees total, though she is unaware of how many contract employees were on site that day. According to Richard Laundry, an international representative with United Steelworkers union, he was notified that the refinery was doing their annual unit maintenance; and that at the time of the turnaround there were no problems that the company was aware of. It is because of this reason that Jackson, along with so many others, are very concerned as to what the cause of the fire may have been.

The health and safety specialist with the Steelworkers Union, Kim Nibarger, claim that they have been keeping close tabs on fires within refineries since 2007 and the country average at this time is about 41 per year. Nibarger claims that while the refineries have their routine turnarounds every year, the union has been saying for some time now that they are concerned more and more workers lives are being placed at risk. She states that at one point the majority of refineries scheduled turnarounds at least every three years; now some are slipping through the cracks and waiting four or five.

In the event that a loved one has been injured in this accident, or any other form of industrial workplace accident; contact Arnold & Itkin today for the aggressive Houston industrial accident lawyer you deserve on your side. We will help you fight for the compensation you deserve for your injury!

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