Olefins Plant Explosion Injures at Least 37 Workers, Creates Smoke Plume Over Baytown

Shortly after 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, an explosion ripped through a processing unit at the Baytown Olefins Plant, an ExxonMobil oil refinery. The Olefins Plant explosion resulted in a large fire in the unit, the blaze contained by firefighters but still burning on Thursday. A large and growing smoke plume arose from the explosion site, drifted across the city of Baytown. The smoke plume potentially contains harmful toxins because the Baytown refinery processes light hydrocarbons, including propylene and propane, chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics and other industrial products. 

Numerous Workers Injured in Baytown Refinery Explosion

A couple of hours after the explosion, a representative of the Olefins Plant advised that three workers had sustained minor injuries and were able to transport themselves to an area hospital. In fact, as the story developed, at least 37 workers were injured as a result of the explosion and fire at the plant. A rumor circulated on Thursday that one worker was killed as a result of the explosion. However, neither plant officials nor emergency personnel confirmed a fatality at the Olefins Plant.

A spokesperson for the refinery noted that many of the injured workers suffered “minor burns.” With that noted, medical personnel have not yet released information on the actual degree of burns suffered by workers or other injuries arising from the explosion and fire.

Burn injuries tend to be the most painful of wounds sustained in accidents. In addition, burns can result in permanent damage and disfigurement. In many instances, because of the long-term damage caused by burn injuries, a victim of an explosion or fire is unable to return to work for some time. Indeed, there are instances in which a burn victim is precluded from returning to the type of employment enjoyed before an accident.

Shelter in Place and Ongoing Air Quality Monitoring

Immediately after the explosion, a shelter in place directive issued for areas of Baytown west of the Olefins Plant. The shelter in place directive was the result of concerns about potential health risks associated with the smoke plume billowing from the Olefins Plant following the explosion.

Officials commenced air quality monitoring in Baytown and surrounding areas. The air quality monitoring is ongoing. As a result of this continuing analysis of contaminates in the air following the Olefins Plant explosion, the shelter in place directive was lifted later in the day on Wednesday.

The Olefins Plant explosion is the third major incident of this nature in the Houston area in 2019 that resulted in injuries, including at least one fatal injury. An explosion occurred in Crosby at a chemical plant. Another explosion and fire occurred at a petrochemical plant in Deer Park. In addition, a minor fire broke out at the Olefins Plant earlier this year as well.

The Olefins Plant itself has been cited for emissions-related violations three times fairly recently by OSHA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for harmful emissions. TCEQ is the Texas equivalent of the EPA.

Harris County filed suit against ExxonMobil, the owner, and operator of the Olefins Plant,, in June. The lawsuit is being pursued because of harmful emissions from the plant that Harris County contends violates the provisions of the federal Clean Air Act.

Industrial Plant Accident Injury Hotline

The Doan Law Firm, a nationwide legal practice headquartered in Houston, maintains an industrial plant accident injury attorney hotline at (713)869-4747. A person suffering an industrial plant accident injury like those that occurred following the Olefins Plant explosion can access vital information about protecting legal rights and interests in the aftermath of this type of incident.

With offices located from coast to coast, an initial consultation can be scheduled any time that is convenient for a prospective client. The Houston office, serving the Baytown area, is located at:

1 Riverview

Suite 2500

Houston, Texas 77056

In addition, an appointment can be scheduled at a person’s home, at a hospital, or via a virtual consultation online.

The Doan Law Firm makes an attorney fee guarantee. The firm never charges a fee unless an industrial plant accident injury lawyer wins for a client.

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