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In legal language, negligence, personal injury, malpractice, and similar claims fall under the umbrella of “tort law.” But have you ever heard of a “toxic tort?” If you live near an oil and gas or chemical facility, perhaps you should know more about this important cause of action.
Earlier this year, two people were killed and at least 20 others were injured after an early morning explosion at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing rocked a northwest Houston neighborhood. Officials say an electrical spark caused a leak in a 2,000-gallon tank containing highly flammable propylene gas. The blast damaged more than 450 surrounding residential and commercial structures.
Since then, hundreds of claims have been filed against the company, alleging that their failure to properly store dangerous chemicals and maintain equipment at the facility was the cause of the blast. Victims are demanding answers for their injuries and the resulting damage to their homes and businesses.
On the day before Thanksgiving last year, a massive chemical plant caught fire in the city of Port Neches, TX -- less than a two-hour drive east of Houston. The fire started after twin explosions rocked the Texas Petroleum Chemicals Group-owned facility, and it was severe enough to make national news.
The U.S. petroleum industry has been the economic bedrock of Houston since 1901 when oil was first discovered here. Today, 3,600 energy related companies and some 405 chemical plants are located in the metro area. The Houston Ship Channel has a 52 mile stretch that is home to chemical and oil and gas facilities that help keep lights on and vehicles fueled across the country. But as important as Houston’s oil and gas is for the economy, workers face hidden dangers that they should never be exposed to.
In Houston area, there are over 2,500 chemical facilities. This is the largest number of chemical facilities per a state in the country. The causes of death at chemical facilities range from falls, heatstroke, injuries caused by equipment, and exposure to dangerous chemicals and substances.
Multiple explosions and commercial fires have occurred in the greater Houston area within the first six months of this year alone. In January 2020, a terrible fire occurred at a Chesapeake Energy oil well site in Burleson County, located just outside Forth Worth, TX. The fire killed three workers and injured others, leaving behind bereaved families looking for answers.
In the wake of the deaths, lawsuits were filed by the families of the deceased employees. These victims claimed the companies were negligent and failed to provide a safe working environmental or adequate medical care to the workers. This made them responsible for all damages resulting from this tragic incident.