Causes of Plant Explosions
The Science of Chemical Explosions
Common Plant Explosion Injuries
Common Plant Explosion Property Damage
Plant Explosion Health Risks
Plant Explosions and Your Legal Rights
Plant Explosion Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Plant Safety So Important?
Fertilizer Plant Explosion in West, Texas
West, Texas April 17, 2013 – A massive explosion and fire occurred at the West Fertilizer Co. Plant in West, Texas shortly before 8 p.m. local time on Wednesday April 17, 2003. The explosions is believed to have leveled homes in the near vicinity as well caused up 15 deaths and injuring more the 160.
Explosion Attorney Rob Ammons Talks to NBC News About Pressure Vessel Safety
Houston, Tx May 20, 2011: In a sharply worded letter, the federal government is asking the city of Houston to reconsider its lack of action on a recommendation that is “greatly needed to protect the lives of the residents and workers of the city of Houston.” Robert Arnold reports. Click here to watch the report on pressure vessel dangers.
February 8, 2011: Several explosions have rocked an Enterprise Products gas plant at noon today in Chambers County. Witnesses reported plant employees running from the plant at noon. A company spokesperson confirmed at least one worker has not been accounted for. A police dispatcher reports there have so far been no report of injuries.
Rob Ammons Talks to Fox News About His Verdict and the Recent Increase in Natural Gas Explosions
Natural Gas Explosions Occuring With Alarming Frequency in Texas
June 8, 2010:LUBBOCK, TEX. — Two men were killed Tuesday by a natural-gas pipeline explosion in Texas, the second such incident in the state in two days.
The blast near Darrouzett, in the northeast corner of the Panhandle, happened when a crew that was removing clay for a dirt-contracting company struck a pipeline, officials said. Three other men on the crew were injured.
Massive flames and a huge plume of smoke can be seen in the area.
“About 2:40 p.m., we heard a loud explosion, rumbling, almost like a tornado. It shook our entire house. The plume of smoke that came out or steam is heading this way, the wind is blowing it right over our house. We are trying to work out whether it is something we need to evacuate or not,” said Laura Harlin in Johnson County.
“We don’t really smell anything at this point. It sounds like faraway thunder at this point,” she added. At 3:15 p.m., she said she could still hear the rumbling. “There is a lot of onlooker traffic in the area,” said Hood County resident, Franklin Daniel. People living in nearby Pecan Plantation have been told they don’t need to evacuate.
A gas company is working to turn off a gas line. Dirt devils can be seen in the area.
Working in a industrial plant is an extremely difficult and dangerous job. Plant workers must always be on their toes and strictly follow safety guidelines. But what is the owner of the plant isn’t following those same guidelines?
Our plant explosion lawyers have identified many possible causes of massive explosions in chemical plants. The chief problem seems to be failure of management to follow safety guidelines, aging equipment that is not being properly maintained or replaced and the increased pressure and competition among plants for higher profits over worker safety.
When safety protocols are not being followed in the high pressure and highly dangerous world of chemical processing and manufacturing, dangerous and deadly explosions and accidents often occur.
- simple fires
- lightning strikes
- improperly maintained boilers
- cigarette smoking
- malfunctions of electrical equipment
- poor maintenance
- using impure chemicals
- lack of education or understanding of safety rules by an employee
The Science of Chemical Explosions
Everywhere we go we are surrounded by chemicals. Chemicals make our lives more comfortable and more convenient, but in the blink of an eye- when improperly handled or contained, chemicals can destroy everything we hold dear.
Many workplaces are at greater risk for chemical explosions. Oil refineries , chemical plants, and industrial complexes are all places we associate with the hazards of chemicals. But to understand how chemical explosions occur, we must first examine the science behind an explosion. There are three criteria which define an explosive compound: creation of gases, heat, and reaction.
Creation of Gases
For an explosion to occur, a chemical reaction must be capable of producing large amounts of gas quickly. These reations often involve combining the oxygen in the atmosphere with substances in a fuel source. The danger is for this gas production to happen very rapidly. For example, burning a pile of coal creates carbon dioxide and steam by combining oxygen with carbon and hydrogen in the coal. However, this reaction is not explosive because it generates gas slowly, over a longer period of time. One way for the reaction to become explosive is by using coal dust instead of coal chunks. By breaking down the coal into dust, its surface area increases, this allows more air to react with it, and causing an explosive outcome.
Build-up of Heat
One of the key components of an explosion is heat. Some particularly dangerous chemical plant explosions in history have been the result of poor maintenance. If a chemical plant is not maintained properly, situations like leaks of dangerous chemicals can occur, creating a situation which may facilitate a chemical plant explosion; if, for example, an explosive gas is released in a hazardous area.
Using impure chemicals can also be an explosion risk. If a chemical plant mixes chemicals of impure quality and in undefined quantities gases can result and when heated, they gain energy and expand – the resulting high pressure can cause the explosive release of energy.
Refineries and plants are places where workers are vulnerable at all times to many unforeseen variables that could result in a life threatening situation. Accidents from a plant explosion, fire, or chemical release may result in serious injury or death to the laborers on-site and to those living nearby off-site.
Many of these explosions, fires, and chemical release accidents are preventable. The injuries or deaths from these accidents are usually due to negligent acts and omissions of the premises owner and contractors as well as OSHA violations. Many times, the refinery and plant has a history of OSHA violations or a reputation of being a dangerous place to work.
Some of these most common plant explosion injuries include:
- lung damage from breathing in dangerous chemicals
- falls resulting in spinal injury or head injury
- exposure to toxic chemicals resulting in injury
- industrial illnesses that develop over time as a result of exposure to dangerous chemicals
Often plant explosion injuries lead to many challenges for workers before they can ever even think of getting back to work. These roadblocks can include future medical expenses, disability, permanent or temporary, disfigurement, and rehabilitation.
The plant explosion attorneys at the Ammons law firm have the experience and resources to identify the causes of an explosion, research the history of the OSHA violations of a particular facility and pursue the claims legally owed to the victim.
Plant explosion property damage
When an explosion occurs in a plant surrounded by neighborhoods, schools and businesses people need to know how to protect themselves. Many times the only option is to wait for emergency personnel or plant spokespeople to release information regarding the environmental impact. Often there are long-term issues to deal with from a wide ranging pollution cloud that usually results from a plant fire or explosion. The air, water and soil quality can be affected for years, even decades to come. Just because the plant company spokesperson says your family is safe after a nearby plant explosion, how can you know for sure? Particularly if you and your family’s health starts to suffer after a nearby explosion.
The experienced plant explosion attorneys at the Ammons law firm know exactly where to look to ensure your family’s safety after a nearby explosion. Our environmental impact investigators will examine the fallout from a plant explosion to determine if your family is at risk and help secure compensation for the damage done to your family’s safety and property.
The most common property damage after a nearby plant explosion can include:
- groundwater contamination
- soil contamination
- dust contamination
- roof damage
- dangerous air quality
When an explosion occurs at a chemical plant or petrochemical facility, the true affects may not be felt for years to come. Often workers who walk away from an explosion with minor injuries will feel lucky , then confused when their health starts to fail years down the road. When a toxic chemical is released into the atmosphere during a violent explosion it changes, sometimes the heat causes it to change or it combines with another chemical to form a deadly cancer-causing combination in a human body. Burns, head injuries and broken bones are easily identifiable and although very painful, rather straight-forward to treat. However, a much more dangerous health challenge from a plant explosion could take years to develop. Cancer, Leukemia and many other diseases can be caused from exposure to combinations of dangerous carcinogens.
The plant explosion attorneys at the Ammons Law Firm have years of experience asking the rights questions of victims of plant explosions and their doctors to help identify the current health problems after being exposed to an explosion. But we also know the questions to ask that may identify potential health hazards that may not appear for years to come. Our plant explosion attorneys work hard to help secure financial security for victims today and tomorrow.
The most common injuries that occur after a plant explosion include:
- broken limbs
- head injuries from falls
- industrial illnesses from chemical inhalation or chemical exposure in plant explosions or oil spills
- chemical exposure and lung damage
- long-term health problems from breathing in dangerous chemicals
- chemical scarring and disfigurement
- loss of limbs, eyesight and hearing from exposure to explosion
Determining who is at fault in a claim of negligence against someone who has caused an explosion is a complicated issue requiring years of experience by lawyers with the resources to deconstruct the steps leading to an accident. Our plant explosion lawyers start this process by first establishing duty of care- in other words, determining what person or entity is ultimately responsible for making sure no one is harmed while work is being done.
Once a plaintiff has established the existence of a duty of care, they must show the defendant did not fulfill that duty. Generally, a duty is considered breached if the defendant failed to act or acted in a way that caused the accident. Then the attorney must show causation, this means the plaintiff must not only prove the existence of a duty and breach of that duty, but also that the breach of this duty caused the injury to be suffered. Basically this means establishing a “link” between the defendant’s actions and the resulting injury. Finally, if duty, and causation have been proven, the plaintiff must also prove that he or she suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Damages can include lost wages and medical costs, but also pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Without damages, there can be no claim.
Top Ten Countries With Fatal Explosions
Here are the top ten countries in terms of fatalities caused by explosions:
1. United States: 197 deaths
2. Colombia: 105 deaths
3. South Korea: 78 deaths
4. Brazil: 72 deaths
5. Mexico: 59 deaths
6. Venezuela: 48 deaths
7. Spain: 26 deaths
8. Thailand: 22 deaths
9. Japan: 21 deaths
10. Germany: 21 deaths
The United States leads this list with nearly double the deaths of Colombia. The United States is on top of this list for several potential reasons. First, Americans represent the most developed economy in the world, which means that Americans, on average, own more consumer goods than any other country per capita.
What that means is that Americans own more items along the lines of snowmobiles, lawn mowers, motorized vehicles and other devices than anyone else anywhere. The presence of these items is the first reason for the potential for disaster to arise, especially if they’re not stored or maintained properly.
Secondly, our love of these motorized products has led to us being addicted to oil. Oil is highly flammable by nature. We own more cars, more toys and utlize more motorized tools than any other economy in the world, and these statistics logically lead to too many deaths by explosion.
When the lawyers at the Ammons Law Firm represent a client injured in a plant explosion they bring to the table decades of experience winning large verdicts. If the case is strong enough and the preponderance of evidence clearly shows a company is at fault- the plaintiff’s case is most likely already won right? Not so. An attorney may win the case in court but the size of the verdict lies in the hands of jurors who will choose either to take a personal stake in the future of the plaintiff or simply carry out their duty as jurors.
“Recently we secured a record setting verdict for the family of a client killed in Hood County, Texas,” says Rob Ammons of The Ammons Law Firm. “An operator was working at a natural gas plant. The plant had what’s called a hot oil heater. The hot oil heater had been improperly installed, and had not been properly engineered. While the operator was using this heater, actually trying to light it, there was an explosion, resulting in his death.”
At 82.5 million dollars in compensatory damages, this particular case ranks as the largest Harris County verdict in a personal injury case involving the wrongful death of one individual. Ammons believes in light of the recent news involving high profile worker and environmental safety accidents particularly with the BP spill; jury members were in a mood to punish energy companies for compromising safety for profits. Ammons focused on reinforcing that mindset.
“There were a variety of strategies that were used in this case. Number one, to introduce the jury to the decedent, to Josh Petrie. And he was just a wonderful young man. And a young man who had done everything the right way. But we also wanted to show the jury (and we did) the incentives that the companies have, and where their priorities were, and the fact that they did literally place their profit, or their pocketbook, over the safety of workers. And that they made decisions that which knowingly compromised safety.”
Ammons says imagery also played a key role in encouraging jurors to take a personal interest in his client’s family’s future.
“One of the primary strategies was to visualize things. We had a furnace that exploded because a company did not meet its obligation to comply with the safety standard. So, through a computer-aided animation, we showed how and why the furnace exploded, as it was installed by this company. And we also showed what would have happened, under the same circumstances, if the safety standard had been followed. And we were able to show, and for the jury to see, that if the safety standards had been followed, there would have never been an explosion.”
Introducing the jury to the victim’s young family seemed like a slam-dunk element of the strategy to win jurors over, but Ammons says he never considered it.
“I had three of the most beautiful young children, the oldest of which was 7, that you could ever imagine as clients in this case. And I did not even bring them into the courtroom. And I told the jury that I would not do that. Because I didn’t want them to feel like sympathy was anything that we were after in this case. We were after holding companies that had violated safety rules accountable for what they did. And I think that that theme resonates with jurors from all the way- from all sides of the spectrum. From the very most liberal to the very most conservative. Is that we will hold rule breakers responsible when they hurt or kill members of our community.”
Chemical Reactivity Hazards
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, (OSHA), chemical reactivity hazards are one of the most serious dangers at any chemical plant. When workers are exposed to toxic chemicals that are not thoroughly understood or controlled hazardous releases often occur. These reactivity releases have resulted in fires, explosions, and toxic high energy events when chemical reactions go astray. Conducting safe chemical reactions is key to the chemical manufacturing industry and vitally important to protect employee health and safety.
What causes plant explosions that can lead to personal injury or death?
Our plant explosion lawyers have identified many possible causes of massive explosions in chemical plants. The common denominator seems to be failure of management to follow safety guidelines, aging equipment that is not being properly maintained or replaced and the increased pressure and competition among plants for higher profits over worker safety.
What is the first thing I should do after being injured in a chemical plant explosion?
After seeking medical attention and understanding the doctor’s plan for your physical recovery it is important to plan for your family’s financial recovery as well. Chances are it will be some time until you are fit to return to work. Systems must be set into motion to ensure medical bills are being paid, food is being put on the table and the lights stay on. The chemical plant explosion lawyers at Ammons law firm specialize in helping you navigate this very stressful and frightening time in your life. Our plant explosion attorneys will evaluate your ability to work, research the plant accident and determine your rights to pursue a claim. We take your family’s future seriously and will give you the information you need when you need it. Call the chemical plant explosion lawyers at the Ammons law firm today for a free consultation.
What are some of the other effects of a chemical plant explosion?
When an explosion first occurs at an indiustrial plant, the worker’s safety is the first concern, then of course, comes the environmental impact on the surrounding communities. A shelter in place is often announced and nearby residents will often move indoors and place wet towels under doors and around windows to prevent dangerous air from coming in. it is important to always make a call to 911 to alert professional rescue teams of the incident, as these professionals are equipped to handle call volume and will also be able to give you basic instructions regarding how to proceed until the authorities take control of the situation. Taking stock of the whereabouts of loved ones is critical in the first few hours of an explosion. A pre-determined family plan helps everyone know what to do in the hours after an explosion to make sure everyone is accounted for as soon as possible.
How do plant explosion lawyers determine who is at fault after an accident?
Determining who is at fault in a claim of negligence against someone who has caused an explosion is a complicated issue requiring years of experience by lawyers with the resources to deconstruct the steps leading to an accident. Our plant explosion lawyers start this process by first establishing duty of care- in other words, determining what person or entity is ultimately responsible for making sure no one is harmed while work is being done. Once a plaintiff has established the existence of a duty of care, they must show the defendant did not fulfill that duty. Generally, a duty is considered breached if the defendant failed to act or acted in a way that caused the accident. Then the attorney must show causation, this means the plaintiff must not only prove the existence of a duty and breach of that duty, but also that the breach of this duty caused the injury to be suffered. Basically this means establishing a “link” between the defendant’s actions and the resulting injury.
Finally, if duty, and causation have been proven, the plaintiff must also prove that he or she
suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Damages can include lost wages and medical costs, but also pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Without damages, there can be no claim.
Chemical plants are full of potential hazards and could cause accidents and disasters if they are not treated properly. Some of the most important are listed here:
- Safety ensures workers have a business to collect a paycheck from.
- Safety enhances the company’s reputation and future earning potential.
- Safety protects the company’s most valuable asset: workers.
- Safety protects the individuals and communities near the manufacturing facility.
- Safety protects the company from unnecessary cost.
- Safety protects the consumers of the end product from unnecessary cost.
- Safety keeps the company’s management focused on long-term, rather than short-term goals.
- Safety allows workers to feel valued.
- Safety prevents production shut-down from accidents.
- Safety allows the company to reduce employee turn-over and increase profitability.