Chemical Explosions Pose a Major Risk to Houston Communities

Jun 16, 2020 | Fires And Explosions, Industrial Accidents

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.
Houston Communities Face Hidden Dangers
Our community members form the foundation of Houston’s culture and livelihood. However, more and more public health hazards are arising and threatening their wellbeing. This is particularly true with respect to those of us living in close proximity to oil and gas operations.

None of us expect the economic activities in our communities to harm us. However, a recent investigation revealed that a lack of safety at Houston’s industrial plants lead to unsafe work conditions. Despite these findings, many companies are continuing with business as usual, refusing to improve workplace safety conditions. This has all-too-frequently resulted in harm to plant workers.

Company Negligence Betrays Our Community
In April 2019, KMCO, LLC., a chemical plant and oil storage facility at the ExxonMobil Corp refinery in Crosby experienced a series of explosions. These blasts resulted in one death and numerous severe injuries. A transfer line carrying a flammable gas called isobutylene ignited and spread to an adjacent warehouse – but the explosion was not the only harm that resulted from the incident.

The chemical release spread illness throughout the surrounding community. To prevent further harm, authorities issued a shelter-in-place order. The explosion at KMCO Crosby highlighted the continuously overlooked issues facing communities near oil and gas facilities. In particular, this includes impacts from pollution, which include violations of several provisions of the Texas Clean Air Act and state water code.

How Does This Keep Happening?
Texas and U.S. safety regulators work hard to prevent harm to surrounding communities. However, the people in charge of inspection and enforcement are overworked. There are about 400 federal inspectors assigned to oversee 15,000 plants, while under budgeted. The inherent danger of oil, gas, and chemical facilities like KMCO Crosby make it extraordinarily difficult for even the most dedicated officials to prevent harm to surrounding communities.  Workplace hazards also threaten the safety of employees.

Protecting the health and wellbeing of yourself, your family, and your neighbors often means taking issues to court. The experienced attorneys at Williams Hart know this better than most. We understand that both the people who suffer physical injuries at work and the neighboring communities are impacted by the effects of explosions and other industrial accidents. Our skilled legal professionals are always available to discuss your case and help bring you justice. Contact us today for a free consultation, we’re here to help.

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