A plant explosion is nearly always deadly, whether it is full of fertilizer, petroleum, or some other combustible substance. While these explosions are rare, when they do occur, loss of life and widespread injury are the results often inflicted on people working at the facility and those living nearby. Fertilizer and petroleum are highly flammable materials and must be kept secure at all times. Unfortunately, in the wake of these accidents, investigations typically turn up several safety infractions and obvious dangers to the workers and surrounding community.
For example, on April 17, 2013, a fire broke out at an ExxonMobil oil refinery in Beaumont, Texas. The Beaumont refinery was under maintenance at the time, and welders at the facility were working on a hydrotreater heat exchanger. Though ExxonMobil claimed that the fire was put out quickly and was not the result of any safety issues, it was still dangerous enough to send 12 workers to the hospital, where one person eventually died. United Steelworkers, an industry union, stated that even if there were no standout safety violations, oil refineries often neglect to perform maintenance often enough, and this may have been the case at the Beaumont refinery as well.
How does a plant explosion occur?
While there are numerous things that can factor into these disasters, they usually involve owner or worker negligence at some level. Some of these may include:
• Failure to maintain or replace factory equipment when it begins to fail
• Failure to uphold a safe work atmosphere by providing proper training and oversight
• Failure to account for common risks like exposed wiring or naked flames
• Poor communication in the facility, reducing the ability to alert others to danger
• Failure to adhere to proper safety protocols when installing new equipment or building onto the facility
• Failure to store chemicals and other materials properly
What kind of injuries can result from these disasters?
When a fertilizer factory or petroleum refinery detonates, the immediate injuries are often grievous, with workers and bystanders suffering broken bones, lacerations, severe burns, or traumatic brain injuries. If they are not severe, the wounds will heal in time, but severe burns and lacerations from a plant explosion can cause disfigurement and enduring pain. A broken spine or neck can leave a person paralyzed for life, and traumatic brain injuries can cause a variety of debilitating conditions.
Even people who appear to be fine after an accident may be suffering from serious internal injuries, or may have been exposed to harmful chemicals that can cause cancer or other major health complications.
Anyone who has been harmed in a refinery or factory accident should consider speaking to the lawyers at the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant. Terry Bryant has helped many victims and families of these accidents and may be able to help attain the compensation needed for medical treatment and other expenses.