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Hundreds of Workers Injured or Killed Due to Rising Number of Plant & Refinery Explosions in 2017

Undefeated Plant and Refinery Explosion Lawyers - Zehl & Associates

Plant explosions have taken a deadly toll this year, with hundreds of workers injured or tragically killed in often-preventable disasters at industrial plants, refineries, oil fields, and pipelines throughout the United States.

Sadly, the new year is not likely to bring much improvement, thanks to a presidential administration that seems determined to eliminate or weaken many of the safety rules and regulations intended to protect those who work in some of the country’s most dangerous industries.

5 Louisiana Workers Killed in Industrial Explosions

Few state’s have fared as poorly as Louisiana, where explosions at pipelines and industrial plants have so far taken five lives this year.

“Louisiana has a staggering number of industrial incidents and it appears to be going up,” Ryan Zehl told in October. “Every explosion is not an accident. An explosion occurs when rules aren’t followed and procedures aren’t put into place. …Almost every two months you have an explosion, it seems.”

The year started out on a grim note, when three workers were killed in February as a result of an explosion at the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) facility in DeRidder. Seven others were injured, including several who sustained chemical burns after coming into contact with turpentine.

Just one day later, a pipeline explosion and fire at the Phillips 66 Station in Paradis killed one worker and severely injured two others. The body of the deceased worker was not recovered until February 13th.

Our Plant Explosion Lawyers are currently representing one of the workers severely injured in the Phillips 66 pipeline explosion, and have filed suit on their behalf in Harris County District Court.

In August an explosion at an Empresa Energy gas processing facility in a remote area of Benton left two workers with serious injuries.

A 44-year-old subcontractor was killed in October, following an explosion aboard a Clovelly Oil Company platform on Lake Pontchartrain, near Kenner. Seven other workers were injured in that incident, including two who were rushed to the burn unit at Baton Rouge General Medical Center.

In early November, a fire broke out at the ExxonMobil Refinery in Baton Rouge, nearly one year after an explosion at the same site left six workers injured, including four who suffered critical burns.

That same month, two Shell employees were injured in a fire aboard the company’s Enchilada offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, about 112 nautical miles south of Vermilion Bay.

Texas Explosions Claim 2 Lives

Industrial explosions in Texas also resulted in the loss of life or serious injury.

Just weeks ago, two workers were severely burned in an explosion at the B.J. Hooker’s vodka distillery in northeast Houston. One of the injured was airlifted to Memorial Herman Texas Medical Center, while the other was rushed to Houston Northwest Medical Center in an ambulance.

Two electrical contractors were critically burned less than two weeks later, following an explosion and fire at the Whitehall Hotel in downtown Houston. One of the men later died.

Two maritime workers were unaccounted for in October, after an oil barge exploded off the coast of Port Aransas. While the remains of one of the men was discovered on a South Padre Island beach several days later, the vessel’s barge captain remains missing and is presumed dead.

A series of explosions plagued the flooded Arkema Chemical Plant in Crosby in the days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast. The company was ultimately forced to burn nine trailers filled with organic peroxides in order to prevent a catastrophic explosion, exposing firefighters and local residents to toxic fumes.

Documents obtained by The Houston Chronicle indicate that Arkema underestimated the potential for storm damage and failed to keep essential backup power protected from rising floodwaters.

Other refineries and petrochemical plants in and around Houston also leaked more than 2,700 tons of extra pollution during Harvey, triggering one of the worst pollution events in Texas history.

Plant Explosions Claim Lives in Florida, Missouri, New York & Wisconsin

Texas and Louisiana were far from the only states to experience deadly plant explosions in 2017.

One worker and three members of the public were killed in April, after an explosion at the Loy Lang Box Company in St. Louis, Missouri, caused a 2,000 LB steel vessel to launch into the air and fly several hundred feet.

The following month, an explosion at the Didion Milling Company plant in Cambria, Wisconsin, killed five employees and sent 11 others to the hospital.

Four people were killed in June as a result of an explosion involving a slag tank at the Big Bend Power Company in Apollo Beach, Florida. Several contractors were also injured in the incident.

A plant explosion at a United States Steel facility in River Rouge, Michigan in August injured six workers, including two who were admitted to Detroit Receiving Hospital’s burn unit.

November saw several major explosions, including a deadly incident at the Verla International cosmetic plant in New Windsor, New York that took the life of one employee. At least 125 people were treated at a local hospital in connection with the incident.

That same month, two workers were severely burned in an explosion at the Desert Whale Jojoba Oil Company’s processing plant in Tucson Arizona. The blast destroyed the facility and sent three other employees to the hospital.

Trump’s Commitment to Eliminating Safety Regulations Could Lead to Increase in Explosions and Industrial Accidents in 2018

Unfortunately, plant explosions and other industrial accidents will likely continue to claim lives in 2018.

“While we all hope that companies value their workers over profits, we’ve repeatedly seen that the opposite is true: safety rules and regulations are stressed on paper, then ignored in the field,” Mr. Zehl told the Houma Times following the Phillips 66 Paradis pipeline explosion in February.

“Until it becomes more expensive for oil and gas companies to violate safety rules than it is to operate safely, we’re likely to continue seeing disasters like this throughout the Gulf Coast and rest of the country,” he added.

To make matters worse, the Trump administration appears committed to gutting safety regulations intended to protect those who work at refineries, pipelines, and other industrial plants throughout the country.

In August, for example, the  U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) signaled that it would abandon a proposed rule intended to prevent plant explosions and fires associated with combustible dust. The rule was inspired by the February 2008 Imperial Sugar refinery explosion in Georgia, which resulted from the massive accumulations of sugar dust throughout the facility’s packaging building.

The Imperial Sugar explosion took the lives of 14 workers and injured 38 others, many of whom sustained life-threatening burns. Our plant explosion lawyers represented many of the workers and were able to reach a highly favorable settlement days before trial.

In July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bowed to industry pressure and announced it was delaying the Chemical Safety Rule until February 2019. The rule was proposed in the wake of the 2013 West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion, which had virtually destroyed the Central Texas Community, injured 160 people, and left 15 dead.

The Trump administration even considered reviving the scandal-ridden Minerals Management Service, which was split into three separate agencies following the April 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon Explosion that left 11 workers dead and seriously injured 17 others.

What’s more, the administration also mulled eliminating the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), which is tasked with investigating major chemical disasters. The CSB is highly regarded, and even industry groups – which opposed its elimination – acknowledge that the Board’s work has helped to improve safety at plants and refineries throughout the United States.

Having won more than $1 billion for our clients and record-setting settlements and verdicts in every major plant, refinery, and pipeline explosion in recent history, our Undefeated Plant Explosion Attorneys have the skills and resources needed to ensure that workers and their families receive the maximum compensation possible for their injuries and losses.

If you or someone you love was injured or tragically killed in an industrial accident or explosion, contact our Experienced Explosion Lawyers at 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email through our “Contact Us” form.

All consultations are free and, because we exclusively represent injured workers and their families on a contingency-fee basis, you’ll owe nothing unless we win your case.