Shell Deer Park Refinery Accident Lawyers

Nearly 100 Years of Deer Park Refining

The Shell Deer Park Refinery was established in Deer Park, Texas, in 1929. Located along the Houston Ship Channel, it is the 18th largest oil and gas facility in the United States. The facility processes a total of 340,000 barrels of crude oil per day. It is also the fourth largest taxpayer and employer in Harris County, with an estimated 2,700 workers. The primary processing units at the facility include distilling, fluid catalytic cracker, selective hydrocracker, delayed coker, and catalytic gasoline hydrotreater.  

Since 1993, Deer Park Refinery has operated in a split venture between major energy corporations Shell Oil Company and PEMEX. Throughout its history, the refinery has been at the center of numerous probes. The EPA, Occupational Safety, and the Health Administration for corporate negligence have conducted inquiries of the facility’s poor safety practices. The refinery management’s failure to maintain a safe work environment has resulted in several injuries and even death to unsuspecting employees.

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One of the earliest recorded accidents at the Deer Park Refinery was a large explosion of the Chevron Hawaii ship during a severe thunderstorm on September 2nd, 1979. The ship contained 110,000 barrels of refinery feedstock and heavy oil and chemical distillates, and ethyl alcohol. Based on a Shell spokesperson’s report, they believed that lightning struck the tanker, which caused the explosion. The fire spread into a barge slip where four barges caught fire, three exploded, and sank. One crew member and 2 radar repairmen aboard the vessel died, and 13 persons suffered injures.

A small transfer pipeline containing oil was allowed to burn out while firefighters worked to contain the blaze. Twelve employees suffered injures, and the bodies of three men were later recovered. Victims of this horrible accident are 33-year-old W. Beemer and 28-year-old David Strout, both natives of Houston. A third crewman also perished; however, his name is being withheld at the family’s request.

The facility and collateral loss for Shell was an estimated 10 million dollars. A large amount of heavy oil polluted the waterway. As a result of this, Shell was charged for environmental clean-up.

This was not the first or last incident at Shell Deer Park Refinery. In August 2017, the refinery production came to a temporary halt after yet another fire broke out at a DU-2 crude distillation unit. This unit produces a total of 325,700 barrels of crude oil per day. The toxic fumes released from the fire forced workers to take shelter, until the blaze got under control.

Jim Hart


The chemicals that enter the air after being vaporized at high temperatures from an oil refinery accident can increase a variety of health risks on workers and the surrounding communities. 

The smog and pollution caused by oil refineries can emit as many as 100 chemicals every day into the environment. These harmful toxins are released in a variety of ways such as air and water pollution. The impact of oil spills on aquatic life in and around the Houston area is only the start of the potential health damage that these chemicals can cause. 

Common symptoms and health diagnoses after exposure to even small amounts of common compounds and chemicals released in an oil and gas refinery fire or spill include:​

  • Headaches
  • Coughing
  • Watery or irritated eyes 
  • Chest pain
  • Skin irritations and sores
  • Birth defects
  • Leukemia and other types of Cancers. 

What are the chemicals released during an oil refinery accident? In an oil refinery accident, there are a variety of toxic chemicals released into the environment. In some cases, heavy metals like lead can poison wildlife and fish. Lead not only affects nature it also creates health risks for adults and cognitive delay in children when exposed. 

There is also the potential for the release of small dust particles (PM10) in the environment. These particles are so minute that they penetrate deep into the lung tissues. In fact, they cause breathing impairment which increases lung cancer risks. ​Studies have proven that these common chemical compounds released may also cause permanent damage to the skin, eyes, respiratory systems, and other vital organs. Thereby increasing the risk of developing life-threatening types of carcinomas (tumors) and cancer. 

​Other chemicals released during oil refinery accidents can include the following:

  • Dioxide (S02)
  • Nitrogen Oxide (NO2)
  • Carbon Monoxide 
  • Methane
  • Dioxins 
  • Hydrogen Fluoride 
  • Chlorine
  • Benzene

It is important to remember that anyone who lives close to a Texas refinery may not show health symptoms right away. It may take several years of prolonged exposure before the symptoms present themselves. Or sometimes, health diagnoses may seem unrelated to chemical poisoning. However, upon further investigation, there is indeed a direct link due to prolonged exposure. This exposure could be through breathing in polluted air, drinking tainted water, and soil pollution from local Texas refineries.

Research has proven that residents living close to one or several oil and gas refineries have higher rates of birth defects and lower fertility rates. Children living in these areas also have a higher asthma diagnosis rate. Lead is a common carcinogen that children develop due to living or attending school near an oil refinery.

It takes 25 days for the body to excrete 50% of the lead from the blood. It can take 40 days or longer for lead to leave soft tissues. However, lead saturates into bones and teeth. It can take up to 10 years or longer after removal from source exposure before it is totally eliminated from the body.  

The long-term health effects from exposure to chemicals from oil and gas refineries can last a lifetime. Choose a legal team that will fight for the compensation you deserve. If you suffered injuries from toxic chemicals or onsite workplace injuries at a Texas oil refinery. Contact our lawyers today!

Texas is home to some of the worst refinery explosions in American history. For nearly 40 years, we’ve helped affected families recover from these catastrophic tragedies.

Learn More About Refinery Explosions


If you suffered injuries in a refinery explosion, you might have several questions. You may be wondering how you will pay your bills and medical expenses. And how you will provide for your family if you cannot work in the future. Unfortunately, many victims find themselves facing seemingly impossible odds on their road to recovery.

An experienced refinery explosion attorney can protect you against the predatory actions of oil and gas corporations. These corporations will do whatever it takes to make you settle for less than you deserve.

The entire team of attorneys and legal at Williams Hart & Boundas are proud to fight on behalf of refinery explosion victims. This allows them to focus on what matters most, recovering without the additional stress of a legal battle. Don’t let Big Oil take advantage of you with their expensive defense teams and insurance companies. Those responsible for your injuries need to pay.

Our knowledgeable lawyers will work diligently on your case to secure maximum compensation for your suffering.