Multiple petrochemical explosions plague Houston and surrounding areas

Mar 2, 2020

The petrochemical industry is one fraught with substantial risks. This industry deals with many dangerous products like, natural gas, butadiene, propylene or one of the hundreds of other risky gases or chemicals. If not handled properly, these gases can explode or leak out. Recently a few explosions in the Houston area have shown how dangerous the petrochemical industry is.

In the recent explosions, people were badly injured and other died. For those injured or those who lost a loved one, when negligence is involved in an injury or death, a wrongful death personal injury lawsuit can be filed by speaking to an experienced Houston personal injury attorney. At The de la Garza Law Group, we have substantial experience dealing with cases like these and we know how to obtain the equitable and fair compensation you deserve.

One of the more concerning explosions happened in Port Neches, 80 miles east of Houston, where two explosions, likened to miniature earthquakes, resulted in the evacuation of 60,000 people. Nearby homes were seriously impacted and three workers were injured. The highly toxic fumes could be seen for miles.

What was being stored at the Port Neches facility, among other toxic chemicals, was a colorless gas used to make synthetic rubber products, called Butadiene. Long-term exposure to this particular gas can result in cancer, damage to the nervous system and cardiovascular disease.

The federal government did require the Port Neches plant to put air monitors in place. Those monitors detected a significant increase in the size and number of Butadiene emissions just months prior to the multiple explosions at the plant in November 2019. It appears that nothing was done to remediate the rogue emissions, other than recording them. What is even more troubling is that in 2017 the same plant location had been found to have been spewing Butadiene and other toxic chemicals into the air instead of burning them off safely.

The plant was then required to monitor and report levels of Butadiene at the edge of the 215-acre compound for a year and to post reports on their website whenever readings were at or over 25 parts per billion. Although the reports were published online, no one took action on the Butadiene readings at the Port Neches plant. The reading indicated that the emissions were well over the stated threshold.

In late 2019, the Butadiene reading continued to be spike, until the explosion and fire ripped through the complex just before Thanksgiving. While the company was doing the readings, it appeared they were doing nothing about the dangerous fluctuations of the emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who imposed the strict reading of emissions protocol in the first place, also checked the filed reports, but only checked that they were filed and did not look at the reading.

In another explosion in the area, a Houston manufacturing business was hit by a blast that killed two and damaged buildings up to a half mile from the blast site. The explosion, located at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, tore apart numerous structures onsite and in the surrounding area. The fire department suspected the explosion was the result of a leaking propylene tank.

In Corpus Christi, a natural gas line blew up near the northbound lanes of I-37 and Buddy Lawrence Drive. Although the fire department was able to get the blaze under control in about an hour, there was cause for concern that there may be another incident if the proper precautions were not taken to continuously monitor and repair area natural gas lines.

These explosions have resulted in injuries and the death of some workers who were onsite when the accidents happened. At The de la Garza Law Group, we have represented a number of explosion victims. We have helped our clients fight to obtain compensation for their injuries or to obtain compensation for the loss of a loved one in a wrongful death action. Our decades of experience in handling personal injury wrongful death cases gives us a unique focus on what we can do and achieve to help you.