Around 4:30 am on Friday, a massive explosion at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing in northwest Houston shook the entire city – and claimed the lives of at least two workers. According to reports, the blast originated at a warehouse containing materials used in the plastics manufacturing process, and as a result, the explosion released significant amounts of polypropylene gas into the air. Soon after the explosion, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo confirmed that polypropylene was burning in the air above Houston.
In addition to spreading flammable polypropylene gas, the explosion damaged over 200 homes around the 4500 block of Gessner Road, with many of them sustaining permanent structural damage. It’s unknown at this time exactly how many injuries were caused by the blast, but the latest sources report that at least 18 Houston residents have been injured, with another listed as missing.
Police officials have now blocked off all the streets near the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing warehouse in northwest Houston, and two Cy-Fair ISD schools have been closed due to the explosion. While government officials have not issued an evacuation order yet, city residents are being urged to avoid the mile-long “hot zone” between Gessner Road and Steffani Lane.
What Are the Effects of Polypropylene Gas Exposure?
Although most of the airborne polypropylene gas is expected to dissipate soon, it is still a toxic chemical that can cause vomiting, headaches, fainting, and dizziness even after short-term exposure. If you notice yourself feeling light-headed or dizzy, public health officials recommend that you see a doctor immediately for an evaluation and testing. Acute short-term exposure to polypropylene gas can also induce suffocation and heart problems.
Residents living near the blast site may also be at risk for more long-term injuries, such as:
- Reproductive injuries
- Liver damage and failure
- Heart irregularities
- Nervous system damage
Previous Violations at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing
According to its website, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing is a machining and manufacturing company that provides “high-performance coatings, machining, and grinding services” for various industrial and aerospace applications. The company does not have any known violations with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but it ran into issues with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 2013, when it was fined $8,000 for safety hazards in the workplace. In a more recent incident, a Watson Grinding employee was crushed by 800 pounds of falling equipment and hospitalized for severe injuries.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the explosion, but it’s possible that negligence at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing could have played a role. At this time, our team at The Ammons Law Firm would like to invite anyone with information regarding the explosion to come forward. As personal injury attorneys who have recovered over $1 billion for accident victims, our team can help you navigate a complex workplace accident or explosion injury claim to seek compensation for your losses.
Call (281) 801-5617 today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced lawyer.