An explosion and fire at the Valero refinery in Texas City produced a cloud of black smoke that was visible for miles but, at least initially, there were no reports of injuries or deaths at the facility. With a capacity of 225,000 barrels per day, the refinery is a major contributor to Valero’s chain of retail fuel centers/convenience stores throughout Texas and the southwest.
According to Texas City sources, the fire occurred at around 3 o’clock on Thursday afternoon, and was contained and extinguished within hours. Texas City public safety and school authorities reported that no local “shelter in place” plans were activated, although school bus transportation from a nearby elementary school was delayed for about 30 minutes until emergency responders determined that smoke from the fire posed no danger to the students and school staff. As of Thursday evening, it had not been determined what effect the fire would have on routine refinery operations or production schedules.
Texas City is no stranger to refinery accidents
It is safe to say that the economic health of Texas City is dependent on the oil refining and petro-chemical products industries. These industries employ literally thousands of employees, many of which are a family’s primary source of income. Given the area’s high density in these industries, it is no surprise that Texas City has seen its share of industrial accidents. Some of the more memorable of these accidents are summarized below.
- On April 16, 1947, a shipboard fire at the Port of Texas City docks ignited tons of ammonium nitrate that was to be used to make fertilizer, causing a series of fires and explosions that killed 581 people and destroyed a large part of Texas City itself. That explosion, and its aftermath, remains the worst industrial accident to have occurred on U.S. soil.
- On May 30, 1978, a series of explosions ripped through the Texas City Refining Company’s plant. The explosions sent flames some 200 feet into the air, resulted in 5 deaths, and left 10 others with serious injuries.
- In 2005, a vapor cloud exploded at BP's Texas City refinery, killing 15 workers. Ironically, since the 15 workers killed were employees of contractors working with BP rather than actual BP employees, their deaths were not included in the federal government's annual safety report relative to the oil refining industry.
- A 2016 fire at the Marathon Petroleum refinery injured dozens, including 3 workers contracted to Marathon that suffered serious injuries. According to news reports, Marathon later paid $86 million to settle lawsuits that were filed against the company following the accident.
Of course, there have been dozens of other accidents at Texas City plants and refineries that are never mentioned in the news media because those accidents were not considered “newsworthy” or never entered the news pipeline for various reasons.
How a personal injury and refinery accident lawyer can help victims of refinery accident victims
According to early reports, there were no reported injuries in today’s fire and refinery management reports that all employees have been accounted for. This is indeed good news because, unfortunately, refinery accidents often produce multiple victims with serious (or even fatal) injuries.
Within the State of Texas, refinery accident injuries usually fall under the jurisdiction of Texas Workmen’s Compensation law. While Texas law is relatively generous in comparison with other states that have significant refinery operations, there are many instances where accident compensation settlements offered to accident victims is inadequate in that it does not reflect the true costs and losses of the victim.
If you were injured in a refinery accident and feel that your accident settlement offer is inadequate, you should contact a lawyer with experience in managing chemical plant and refinery accident cases to advise you on the proper course of action to ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation that is allowed by law. In the Houston – Galveston area, one such lawyer is the chemical plant and refinery accident lawyer at the Doan Law Firm.
The Doan Law Firm is a nationwide personal injury law practice with a record of successfully managing plant and refinery accident injury cases. When you contact our refinery accident lawyer, your initial consultation is always free and does not obligate you to hire our firm to represent you. If you decide to have us act as your representative in your refinery accident, we will assume all responsibility for preparing your case for trial in exchange for a previously-agreed-upon percentage of the settlement that we will win for you.