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Watson Grinding Explosion Destroyed Nearby Homes and Businesses and Tragically Claimed 2 Lives


Residents of northwest Houston remain shaken today, three days after a massive polypropylene explosion at Watson Grinding & Manufacturing tragically killed two people, injured 20 others, and inflicted heavy damage on homes and businesses throughout the surrounding neighborhoods.

Watson Grinding Employees Tragically Killed in Plant Fitness Center

The January 24th explosion at Watson Grinding & Manufacturing jolted residents from their sleep shortly before 4:30 a.m. The powerful blast was felt far from the disaster zone and left a debris field in its wake that stretched for more than two miles.

Houston authorities later confirmed that two men – both Watson Grinding employees – had tragically died in the explosion.  The men had apparently arrived early for their shift and were using the facility’s fitness center when they were killed.

Twenty others, including two workers and 18 residents, received treatment at area hospitals.

“This could have been much worse,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said while touring the area over the weekend. “If this had happened two hours later, it’s likely more people would be dead and more lives impacted.”

Nearby Homes May be Declared Uninhabitable

Last Friday’s explosion also caused significant damage to about 200 homes and businesses, including several that were knocked off their foundations. According to Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña, around 50 homes are in “bad shape” and could be deemed uninhabitable by city inspectors.

“We need to get the structural engineers in there,” Peña told reporters on Sunday. “Those houses are going to need to be structurally evaluated.”

A drenching rain over the weekend only added to the calamity.

“This whole house, I don’t think it’s salvageable,” a relative of one homeowner told The Houston Chronicle. “I don’t see how it can be repaired.”

Former Worker Describes Dangerous Conditions at Watson Grinding

On Friday, authorities said the explosion likely resulted from a 2,000-gallon tank that was leaking highly-flammable polypropylene. So far, however, they have yet to identify an ignition source.

In an interview with The Houston Chronicle, one ex-employee asserted that Watson Grinding & Manufacturing had long been a dangerous workplace. He made similar allegations in a complaint filed with the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) in 2006, describing equipment that was not securely fastened to the floor and employees grinding potentially toxic tungsten carbide without goggles or gloves.

OSHA did recommend citations in response to several of his complaints. In 2013, the agency fined Watson Grinding $13,400 for failing to protect workers from machines.

Two years later, a Watson Grinding employee suffered a finger amputation while working on a lathe. Just last year, another worker was crushed by falling equipment.

Multiple agencies are now investigating the Watson Grinding & Manufacturing explosion, including the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives.

Affected by the Watson Explosion? Contact Our Undefeated Plant Explosion Lawyers for a Free Consult at 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here.

Our Undefeated Plant Explosion Lawyers continue to monitor developments related to the deadly Watson Grinding explosion and will post additional updates as new information becomes available.

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If you or a loved one were injured or affected by the explosion, please call 1-888-603-3636 or click here to fill out our confidential contact form.

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