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Have Refinery Safety Measures Improved Since Texas City Accident?

Posted By Arnold & Itkin || 23-Mar-2015

Just a decade ago, Texas City saw one of the most disastrous explosions at the BP Refinery unit. Spitting out 7,600 gallons of hydrocarbons into the sky, only a small spark was needed to set off the series of devastating explosions that took place at the refinery on March 23, 2005. A cluster of office trailers at the plant were completely destroyed, killing 15 individuals who were inside of them. In addition, 180 more were seriously burned or disfigured in the accident, making it one of the worst refinery accidents the country has ever seen. The location of the trailers was one of the most concerning issues of the incident. They were placed so closely to the refinery stack to house workers during shutdowns and startups, which are known to be the most dangerous times for a refinery.

Refineries Still Lack Safety Measures for Workers

The Texas City refinery explosion is the type of accident that awakens the conscious of the public and the big companies that run refineries-or so that is what should have been expected. Instead, the refineries that are scattered across the U.S. remain as dangerous and deadly as before. According to evidence gathered by investigators, workers keep dying at serious rates.

Since that 2005 disaster, at least 58 workers have died in refineries across the country, with many more suffering injuries. Almost 350 fires reported in just the last 8 years, which amounts to about one fire a week. However, federal regulators lack hard data to properly track deaths and monitor safety standards within the industry, meaning that many more worker deaths and injuries could be attributed to lack of proper safety measurements and procedures.

Marathon Petroleum Co. Tempts Fate With Tent Sites

What can be done to help minimize the risk these workers face? Following the tragic Texas City accident, many safety experts urged refinery operators to move these types of temporary structures much farther away from process units. While this is only a small step towards improving working conditions, it is a huge factor for those who are housed in those trailers or structures.

Despite these suggestions, Marathon Petroleum Co. put up three tent sites during a repair cycle on the same refinery grounds were bodies of workers had laid nearly 10 years prior. Some feared that this was putting them at risk to repeat the same type of disaster seen when BP was running things.

Though there has yet to be any deaths reported since Marathon took over the refinery, several union officials credit the safety of workers to the changes BP had made in response to the original accident and subsequent seven deaths that took place over the years. They also believe that changes put forth in Marathon’s new labor agreement will quickly erode what little safety was given to the workers.

In response, a Marathon spokesman commented that one of their top priorities was to protect the safety of workers and the surrounding community. They also claimed that the company has only improved safety standards since acquiring the refinery from BP.

The verdict is still out on whether or not Texas City will be put through another devastating refinery explosion and disaster seen just 10 years ago on March 23rd.

Client's portion of total recovery may be subject to Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement claims, Medicare/Medicaid liens or other third-party claims or liens. These verdicts and settlements are intended to be representative of cases handled by Arnold & Itkin, LLP. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims.

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