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Refinery Explosion Attorney

Accidents at Oil & Gas Refineries

Long considered one of the most dangerous industries to work in, the oil and petrochemical refinery industry has seen several catastrophic accidents over the years. The demand for oil has unfortunately bred an assumption that profits have precedence over worker safety, with the result that in spite of continuing efforts by OSHA to enhance safety practices and worker safety systems, there continue to be serious accidents at American refineries, such as massive explosions.

Major Refinery Accidents

  • July 1984: Explosion at a Romeoville, IL refinery killed 19 people.
  • May 1988: After hydrocarbon gas escaped, it was ignited--causing a major explosion at a Shell Oil refinery in Norco, LA. Nearly 3,000 residents were evacuated; 7 people were killed and 42 were injured.
  • November 1998: Explosion occurred at the Equilon Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes, WA, which killed 6.
  • March 1999: Explosion at a refinery in Richmond, CA released toxic fumes and caused hundreds of injuries.
  • March 2005: Explosion occurred at the BP refinery in Texas City, TX; this incident killed 15 and injured 170+.
  • February 2008: Dust explosion occurred at a sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, GA killed 13 and injured 40.
  • April 2010: Nearly 40-year-old heat exchanger failed at a refinery in Anacortes, WA. This incident killed 7.
  • June 2013: Reboilers with a fatal design flaw caused an explosion in Geismar that killed 2 and injured 167.

Preventing Major Refinery Explosions

All too often, refinery accidents can be traced to the reluctance of management to invest in repairs and replacement of defective refinery equipment. For example, the BP refinery explosion in Texas in 2005 could be traced, at least in part, to corroded pipes that burst and spewed flammable vapors into the air. Alarm systems at the plant were also found to be malfunctioning.

In another example, the 2013 Williams Olefins explosion in Geismar could be traced back to a valve design flaw made years before. The company was even warned about the specific flaw increasing the likelihood of an explosion, but upper management ignored it for over a decade. Finally, one June morning, the poorly-designed valves caused a massive explosion that could be felt from up to 5 miles away. These are examples of negligence on the part of refinery management in regards to worker safety.

To prevent refinery accidents, refineries are required to:

  • Provide for the safe containment of flammable liquids;
  • Regularly inspect / maintain pressurized tanks and containers; and
  • Locate unprotected buildings away from hazardous areas.

There are rules regarding the entry of non-related personnel into restricted areas where hazardous start up and shut down operations are underway. Workers are required to be trained in following all safety procedures to enable them to contribute to the prevention of refinery explosions. Employers are mandated to maintain proper instrumentation systems and alarms to warn of dangerous situations. Adequate staffing is required to make sure that working conditions at a refinery are safe. Inadequate staffing, procedures, controls, and response plans for avoiding / responding to explosions endanger the safety of people in the immediate vicinity, as well as all workers and local communities.

Preventing Explosions at Sugar Refineries

Sugar refineries can contain large volumes of combustible dust in the work environment. According to OSHA regulations, facilities that include the presence of combustible dust must take proper precautions related to sufficient ventilation, worker training in dealing with hazardous materials, proper securing of hazardous locations, correct techniques for dust disposal, use of appropriate safeguards wherever combustible dust is present, and emergency response plans in the event of an explosion. Failure to comply with any of these provisions can lead to devastating accidents.

Were you or a loved one injured in an accident at a refinery?

If so, then you do not deserve to suffer in silence. These are complex cases; without having a knowledgeable lawyer on your side, it can be all too easy to find yourself suffering from serious, debilitating injuries. If this is the case, it is in your best interests to consult with a plant explosion lawyer from the legal team at Arnold & Itkin LLP as soon as possible. We have been able to recover billions of dollars on behalf of our clients—allowing them to get their life set back on track.

Don't face your injury claim alone! Contact a refinery explosion attorney from our firm today to discuss your claim.

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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