Crosby, TX KMCO Chemical Plant Explosion Lawyer
KMCO Parent Company Has History of Safety and Environmental Violations
Shortly before 11:00 a.m. on April 2nd a fire and subsequent explosions damaged the KMCO chemical plant in Crosby TX. The fire, which reportedly destroyed a warehouse and the plant's isobutylene transport lines and storage tanks, was reported to be under control as of 4:30 p.m. Company and local firefighters will remain on site overnight to control "hot spots" that could lead to a second fire at the facility.
According to news sources reporting from the scene, such as the Houston Chronicle and the local ABC affiliate KTRK, workers attempting to evacuate the plant were confronted with locked gates and doors that could not be opened by supervisors. Many workers were thus forced to crawl under security fences that encircle the plant or use available power hand tools to cut through locks. Although one worker was killed and two were critically injured, all others escaped without serious injury.
In today's post the chemical plant explosion lawyer at The Doan Law Firm will review the history of safety and environmental violations by ORG Chemical Holdings, the owner of both the KMCO plant in Crosby and the KMTEX plant in Port Arthur
Environmental and Safety Issues
Based on news reports from the scene in Crosby and previously-published material, our chemical plant explosion injury has identified two issues that will almost certainly come into play if legal actions are filed on behalf the dead and injured workers: the company's previous record regarding environmental protection laws and its employee safety policies.
Previous Environmental Protection History
As is often the case with privately held corporations (all stock is held by individuals and not traded on a stock exchange), the actual ownership of KMCO is clouded by a series of subsidiary companies created (apparently) solely for the acquisition of other companies. According to a Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing KMCO is owned by ORG Chemical Holdings LLC, a privately-held investment group based in Austin TX, which acquired KMCO in June 2012.
Prior to acquiring KMCO, ORG Chemical Holdings owned the KMTEX chemical plant in Port Arthur. In March of 2011 an explosion and fire at that facility killed one worker and severely injured two others. The companies that actually "owned" the plant, KTX Limited and KTX Properties, Inc., were later indicted on a variety of criminal complaints, including violations of the Clean Air Act and the deliberate falsification of required permit applications. The same indictment charged Crosby LP and Ramsey Properties LP, companies that "owned" KMCO prior to its "acquisition" by ORG Chemical Holdings, with failure to monitor leaks of ozone and other compounds into the atmosphere between 2008 and 2012.
In October of 2016 all defendants in the case entered negotiated guilty pleas, agreeing to pay a total of $3.5 million in fines to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Workplace Safety Record
Facilities such as chemical processing plants, e.g. KMCO, are inherently dangerous due to the facts that 1) most "raw" chemicals used to produce other substances are subject to explosion if not carefully handled, 2) the same substances can potentially cause severe injury to workers who are exposed to relatively small amounts, and 3) unless the manufacturing process is carefully controlled, any chemicals that are released into the atmosphere can cause illness or injury several miles from the production facility.
Data compiled from local news sources, as well as the OSHA and EPA websites, reveal that:
- KMCO is not currently compliant with the Clean Water Act, and was found non-compliant in 7 of the previous 12 quarters
- the company was cited in 3 of the past 12 quarters for non-compliance with the Clean Air Act
- as recently as February of this year, KMCO was found to have violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
- in 2008, Harris County (TX) filed a lawsuit against KMCO over its release of fumes that were causing headaches in people living downwind of the facility. The lawsuit was resolved with KMCO agreeing to pay $100,000 in civil fines/court costs and agreeing to allow periodic inspection of the facility by local authorities
- within hours of the fire, the State of Texas Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state's Commission on Environmental Quality regarding a violation of the settlement terms of the previously-mentioned 2009 lawsuit
As further evidence that the company neglected the safety of its workers, consider this report carried by the local ABC affiliate where a KMCO employee relates how employees attempting to flee from the fire encountered locked gates, forcing workers to crawl under fences to escape the flames!
Contacting a Chemical Plant Explosion Lawyer at The Doan Law Firm
In the above discussion we emphasized KMCO's previous record of noncompliance with state and federal law and deliberate actions that could compromise worker safety. We mentioned those points for a very good reason.
In a criminal prosecution, what a defendant did in the past is generally not allowed to be presented as evidence on the grounds that a defendant would not be able to effectively challenge such evidence from years ago. On the other hand, such evidence is allowed in civil lawsuits because it demonstrates a defendant's "mind set" or "attitude" and how those factors led to an unsafe condition. From the available information, we feel that KMCO's past record would be more than adequate to lay the groundwork for a successful personal injury lawsuit.
Call our experienced Chemical Plant Explosion Lawyers at (832) 835-0000
If you, or a family member, have been injured in a chemical plant accident we invite you to contact the chemical plant injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a national personal injury law practice with offices throughout the country.
When you contact our firm to arrange a review of your chemical plant accident personal injury lawsuit, your case review and discussion of the legal options that may be available to you are always free of charge and do not require you to hire us as your legal counsel. If you decide to file a lawsuit and would like for us to represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for a percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.
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