Explosion, Fire at Pasadena’s Kuraray America EVAL Plant Injures 21 Workers Ethylene gas leak quickly contained and posed no danger to Pasadena-area residents, said emergency management officials
Previous posts on this site have covered recent explosions and fires in oil refineries located in Texas City TX and Superior WI. However, manufacturing plants that use chemical byproducts that are produced in the refining process are often located close to refineries and may pose significant risks related to industrial accidents that may endanger plant chemical plant workers as well as residents living close to such plants.
In today’s post, the refinery and chemical plant explosion lawyer at the Doan Law Firm provides an overview of the recent explosion and subsequent fire at the Kuraray America EVAL manufacturing plant in Pasadena TX. He will then review the legal options that may be available to victims of oil refinery and chemical plant explosions and fires.
The incident at Kuraray plant in Pasadena, TX
According to local media sources, at around 10:30 AM on Saturday, May 19th, Pasadena TX fire and emergency medical personnel were summoned to an explosion and fire at the Kuraray America EVAL facility in Pasadena TX. Although the fire was quickly contained, the chemical manufacturing unit where the explosion and subsequent fire occurred was extensively damaged.
In a statement released by Kuraray America Inc., the company confirmed that there were a total of 266 Kuraray employees and non-employee contractor personnel “on-site” at the time of the fire and that these personnel were involved with “… a turnaround with heavy maintenance activities.” Kuraray also stated that the fire apparently involved an ethylene gas pressure safety valve. Whether by malfunction or by human error, there was a release of highly flammable ethylene gas which almost immediately burst into flames. This flash fire resulted in non-life-threatening burn injuries to 21 workers. Two worker were reportedly airlifted to Houston-area hospitals, but their conditions were unknown at the time of this writing.
Kuraray also stated that the ethylene gas leak was quickly contained and posed no danger to Pasadena-area residents. Emergency-management officials with both Kuraray America and Harris County confirmed that no evacuation orders had been issued and that the ethylene gas leak had been quickly contained by Kuraray America workers.
How plant explosions can occur
Explosions and fires in the oil production and refining industries have been addressed on other pages on other pages of this website and will be mentioned only in passing here. Instead, we will limit our discussion to issues generally involved in chemical plant industrial accidents before addressing the explosion and fire at the Kuraray America EVA facility.
In respect to the issues mentioned above, the accident at the Kuraray America EVA facility seems to warrant attention in two areas: 1) the explosion occurred during a period of heavy maintenance and/or substantial upgrade to existing equipment and 2) the release of potentially toxic gas or similar materials.
Accidents occurring during heavy, routine maintenance or during upgrade of existing facilities
As mentioned above, many chemical plant accidents occur while a substantial portion of the plant’s capacity is “offline” for heavy routine maintenance or during equipment replacement and/or upgrade. Since the statement by Kuraray America mentions only that its Pasadena facility was undergoing “… a turnaround with heavy maintenance activities …”, we can assume that such maintenance/replacement activity was somehow involved in the explosion at Kuraray America’s EVOL production facility in Pasadena.
Exposure to potentially toxic gasses or substances
Many chemical plant accidents result in leaks of industrial chemicals into the air surrounding these plants and, on occasion, into residential areas that are “downwind” of the area where such accidental releases occur. In many cases, these releases involve relatively harmless substances such as the ethylene that was released in the Pasadena incident. Although ethylene gas was listed as the cause of the explosion and fire at the EVOL plant, had it not ignited it would have quickly dissipated into the air surrounding the facility and would have posed no danger to the facility’s employees, emergency response personnel, or to those living downwind of the plant. If, however, the ethylene gas had remained concentrated in a small area or had continued to escape, it could have caused chemical burns to unprotected skin or to the eyes of plant employees as well as to emergency personnel who may have entered the area of the gas leak.
Why you may need a chemical plant accident lawyer
From the discussion presented above, you can see that industrial and chemical manufacturing plant accidents usually occur during periods of routine “heavy” maintenance or while older equipment is being replaced. The owners of chemical plants are expected to be aware of this danger and should be expected to take all reasonable steps to minimize risks during this critical period. If it can be shown that the plant’s owners did not take all reasonable steps to protect its employees and those living near such facilities, then the plant owners may be held liable for negligence and ordered to pay damages to anyone who is injured as a result of that negligence.
If you believe that you, or a family member, have been injured as a result of an explosion at a chemical plant or by toxic materials released by such an explosion, you should speak with an experienced chemical plant explosion lawyer to review the legal options that may be available to you. One such lawyer is the refinery and chemical plant explosion lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, a nationwide firm that represents those that have suffered injuries or other losses in such accidents.
When you contact the refinery and chemical plant explosion at our firm, your initial consultation is always free of any charges and never obligates you to hire our firm. Should you decide to have us represent you in your refinery or chemical plant explosion lawsuit, we are willing to work with you and assume all expenses related to such legal actions in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final verdict that we will win for you.