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OSHA Dispatches Investigators to Kuraray America Chemical Plant in Wake of Explosion


Investigators from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have been deployed to Pasadena, Texas to investigate the May 19 chemical plant explosion that injured at least 21 workers.

Pasadena Plant Explosion Tied to Leak of Highly Flammable Ethylene Gas

The May 19th explosion occurred shortly before 10:30 a.m. on an operating unit of the Kuraray America EVAL plant, which manufactures ethylene vinyl-alcohol copolymers, a type of plastic that is primarily used in packaging.

The blast occurred during the facility’s turnaround period, as it was undergoing heavy maintenance.

A statement from Kuraray America indicates that over-pressurized piping caused a valve to blow, resulting in a leak of highly-flammable ethylene gas.

The gas ignited and caused a flash fire on one of the plant’s production units. Workers in the vicinity were performing pipefitting and welding when the explosion was triggered.

3 of the Workers Injured in Kuraray America Explosion Remain Hospitalized

266 workers, including employees and contractors, were on site when the explosion occurred.

A total of 21 people were transported to the hospital, including two badly burned workers who had to be airlifted.

Three remained hospitalized as of May 21st.

Many of those injured in the explosion suffered burns, while others were injured as they fled the plant.

Federal Agencies Launch Dual Investigations Into Kuraray America Chemical Plant Explosion

Officials from OSHA arrived on scene earlier this week.

The agency’s investigation will determine if any workplace safety violations may have contributed to the explosion.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) also dispatched a 4-person investigatory team to Pasadena earlier this week.

Board spokesperson Tom Zoeller told the Houston Chronicle that they’ll likely remain on site for the next several weeks to gather evidence and interview witnesses. The CSB investigation could take a year or more to complete.

“They’ll determine not only what happened, but why it happened,” Zoeller said.

While the CSB has no authority to assess financial penalties or issue new regulations, the Board’s recommendations have led to significant revisions in safety policies and procedures at plants and refineries across the country.

OSHA, on the other hand, has the authority to issue monetary fines and sanctions again Kuraray America if its investigation reveals any workplace safety violations.

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Our Undefeated Plant Explosion Lawyers are proud to be representing multiple workers injured in the Kuraray America explosion and are working with a team of expert engineers to determine its cause and how it could have been prevented.

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If you or a loved one were injured in the Kuraray America explosion, call 1-888-603-3636 or click here to send us an email through our “Contact Us” form.

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