Undefeated Texas Plant and Refinery Accident Lawyers
A chemical disaster occurs almost every day in the U.S., as confirmed by new data reported in the Guardian.
Researchers from the nonprofit Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters found that more than 825 hazardous chemical incidents occurred in the U.S. since January 2021. And worse still: Texas leads the nation in these dangerous accidents involving hazardous substances.
79 Chemical Accidents in Texas Since 2021
At least 79 chemical incidents — including leaks, spills, fires, and explosions — occurred in Texas since January 2021. The next closest state was California with 49 incidents, and then Louisiana with 39.
These hazardous events tend to take place across the fossil fuel and chemical supply chain. And Texas is the epicenter of these industries’ subsectors, which help rake in billions each year often at the expense of worker safety, including:
- Oil and gas extraction
- Production of fuels, plastics, pesticides, fertilizers and petrochemicals
- Storage and distribution (by road or rail) of these volatile chemicals
- Disposal and recycling of petrochemical products like plastics, paint, and tires
Just this week, a chemical plant explosion in Shepherd, Texas, north of Houston, injured one worker and forced residents of San Jacinto County to shelter in place nearly all day long.
43 Lives Lost to Chemical Accidents Since 2021
Since 2021, there have been over 95 incidents in the oil and gas sector and 340 incidents associated with plastics and petrochemical manufacturing nationwide.
The impact these chemical accidents have on the health and safety of workers and communities is clear — and disturbing:
- 43 people lost their lives in a hazardous chemical incident
- Over 150 incidents resulted in injury, hospitalization, or acute symptoms following chemical exposure
- 191 communities were advised or required to evacuate
- 101 communities were advised to shelter in place
1,558 Texas Facilities Handle Volatile Chemicals
From the Permian Basin to the Port of Houston, there are more Texas facilities that handle hazardous chemicals than anywhere else in the state.
An estimated 1,558 facilities are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Risk Management Program which was created to prevent chemical disasters and requires facilities that house extremely hazardous chemicals to have risk management plans in place to detect, prevent, or minimize the consequences of an accidental release.
Owners of these facilities must follow strict federal or state safety rules, but many continue to cut costs and increase profits or violate standard operating procedures or company safety policies. The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has levied millions in fines against almost all of the largest refineries in the United States, but a recent investigation by ABC13 Houston found that fines after plant explosions can be as low as $13,500.
Unless companies are forced to take responsibility, they will continue to put profits first.
What Types of Chemical Accidents Happen in Texas?
The report makes clear where chemical incidents most commonly occur, including:
- Oilfields, including oil and gas wells and terminals, like the West Texas oil rig explosion that severely burned a worker in 2021
- Pipelines, like the tragic Atmos Energy explosion that killed two and injured two more in 2021
- Refineries, like the Phillips 66 refinery fire that injured six near Borger, Texas in 2023 and the notorious Marathon Galveston Bay in Texas City, home to one of the worst refinery disasters in U.S. history that claimed 15 lives in 2005 and a fire that left one dead in 2023
- Chemical plants, like the Shell Deer Park Chemical Plant fire that hospitalized nine workers in May 2023 and caused the city of Houston to sue Shell over air and water pollution violations
- Highways, roads, and rails, where giant 18-wheelers heading from the oilfield are responsible for a quarter of deadly truck accidents in Texas
What Causes These Accidents?
There are many common causes for accidents involving hazardous chemicals, including the highly-flammable and volatile nature of many of these substances, the prevalence of fatigued workers covering long shifts, improper training, lack of safety protocols, and more.
One thing the report underscores is the frequency with which bad weather, including natural disasters, is causing these accidents in the first place. As climate change creates a surge in extreme weather events, this may in turn cause more chemical disasters — or make them worse.
For instance, nearly 200 Texas facilities released over three million pounds of toxic chemicals during the arctic blast that brought much of the state to its knees back in February 2021.
More Robust Regulations Are Needed
The EPA is currently finalizing proposed changes to regulations that apply to plants dealing with hazardous chemicals in regards to climate change and emergency preparedness. The agency found that 31% of these facilities are located in areas with increased risk of natural hazards including flooding, storm surge, wildfire, and sea level rise.
But industry groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute are predictably opposed to the changes.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: U.S. chemical facilities need more robust regulations to protect the roughly 200 million people who live near these plants, many of whom are members of disadvantaged communities.
Injured in a Chemical Plant or Refinery Accident? Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consultation With Our Undefeated Refinery Accident Attorneys.
Our Undefeated Refinery Accident Lawyers have won Billions on behalf of workers throughout Texas, Louisiana, and across the United States injured and tragically killed in connection with the worst chemical accidents and explosions in recent history.
If you or a loved one were injured in a plant or refinery accident, call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form.
We’ll answer your questions, explain your rights, and provide you with the information you need to decide what’s best for you and your family.
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