Plant Explosions & Injuries

Plant & Industrial Explosion Lawyers

No one should have to go to work and suffer preventable injuries. No family should have to send their hard-working loved one to work for the last time because an employer failed to do its job.

If you were injured or a family member was killed in a plant explosion, you need trained attorneys to help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Rob Ammons knows how to get you compensation for your losses. Rob Ammons’ $82.5 Million Dollar Verdict is one of the largest explosion recoveries in Texas history and is included in the Texas Verdict Hall of Fame.  Rob Ammons has helped clients in more than 450 cases recover over $1 Million Dollars. Rob Ammons has helped his clients recover over $2 Billion Dollars in total.

At The Ammons Law Firm, we cannot change what has happened to you and your family, but we can hold those responsible accountable for your losses. Our no-cost unless-we-win guarantee makes sure that you and your family are never charged a dime unless the wrongdoers are held accountable, and you receive compensation for your loss. Call us now for a free consultation.

If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a plant explosion, call our plant explosion attorneys today for a free consultation. Our law firm represents families across the nation.

Our plant explosion & injury law firm is prepared to fight for you. Call us at (281) 801-5617 or contact us online to get started with a free consultation.

Different Types of Cases Our Explosion Lawyers Handle

Oil Refinery Explosion

An oil refinery is a facility that transforms crude oil into a spectrum of petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel, and various heating oils. Through processes such as distillation, cracking, and reforming, crude oil undergoes chemical and physical changes and converts into products that people and companies use in their daily lives. These refineries are important because they enhance raw materials into important products and provide them to retailers, which contributes to energy supply and economic activity.

An oil refinery explosion can occur despite safety protocols and technological advancements. Common triggers include safety violations, human error, inadequate maintenance practices, defective equipment/components, as well as improper storage or handling of chemicals. These explosions are devastating not only to the workers and community but can also result in severe environmental damage and economic disruption.
Natural Gas Plant ExplosionA natural gas processing plant is an important facility in the energy industry, purifying raw natural gas to meet the quality standards required for transportation through national pipelines. These plants recover valuable natural gas liquids (NGLs) such as ethane, propane, and butane, which have many different industrial applications, including fuel, raw material for petrochemicals, and enhancing oil recovery in wells. The plants separate impurities, nonmethane hydrocarbons, and fluids from the natural gas stream. This is commonly referred to as “pipeline-quality” dry natural gas.

Natural gas processing plants have a risk of explosion due to the nature of the chemicals they work with, even with safety standards and protocols in place. Common causes are equipment failures, such as valves or compressors malfunctioning, human error, poor maintenance practices, or improper handling of hazardous materials, all of which contribute to the risk of an explosion.

Chemical Plant Explosion

A chemical plant is a facility that focuses on the large-scale processing of chemicals. These facilities are designed to harness chemical or biological transformations, as well as separation techniques, to produce new materials or compounds. These plants contribute significant benefits to modern life.

Chemical plants still run the risk of explosion even with safety standards and advancements. Common risks are equipment failures, such as leaks or malfunctions in vessels or piping systems, and human error, often stemming from inadequate training or lapses in safety procedures, which also pose significant risks within these complex industrial environments. Other factors, such as impure chemicals, corrosion, the presence of combustible dust, contaminated water, or safety violations, can further exacerbate the potential for explosions. Given the potential consequences on both human life and the environment, chemical plants must prioritize safety measures, continual risk assessment, and adhere to strict regulatory standards to mitigate the catastrophic risk of an explosion.

Industrial Explosion

Industrial plants process raw materials into products essential for everyday life, such as food and beverage, chemicals, metals, textiles, electronics, and oil and gas. Each type of industrial plan operates distinct processes and utilizes specialized equipment tailored to its specific manufacturing requirements.

Industrial plants pose a significant risk for explosions due to the nature of the products that are being worked with. Common causes are equipment failures, such as valves or compressors malfunctioning, human error, inadequate maintenance practices, or improper handling of hazardous materials, all of which contribute to the risk of an explosion. Additionally, issues like the use of impure chemicals, corrosion, accumulation of combustible dust, contamination of water sources, or safety violations further heighten the risk of explosions. Given the potential for catastrophic consequences to the environment and human life, industrial plants must prioritize strict safety measures, ongoing training, and adhere to regulatory standards to mitigate the risk of incidents.

If you or someone you know has suffered from a plant explosion, call our plant explosion lawyers today at (281) 801-5617. Your initial consultation is completely free and entirely confidential.





Chemical Plant & Refinery Explosion Lawsuits

  • The Kuraray America Plant Explosion – Texas

    On May 19, 2018, the Kuraray America Plant in Pasadena, Texas, experienced a devastating explosion that had far-reaching consequences for both the facility and the surrounding area. The explosion occurred in a polyvinyl alcohol production unit and led to a massive fire that raged for several hours. Fortunately, no fatalities were reported, but the incident resulted in 21 people suffering injuries, including some severe burns. The blast also caused significant damage to the plant, with debris scattered across the site and the surrounding neighborhood.

    Investigations into the incident revealed that a combination of factors, including equipment failure and inadequate safety procedures, contributed to the explosion. In the aftermath, the company committed to improving its safety protocols and making necessary upgrades to prevent similar accidents in the future.

  • The ExxonMobil Olefins Chemical Plant Explosion – Texas

    On July 31, 2019, a catastrophic explosion occurred at the ExxonMobil Olefins Chemical Plant in Baytown, Texas, sending shockwaves through the industrial and local communities. The explosion resulted in a significant fire and forced the plant to shut down, affecting the production of chemicals and causing concerns about air quality. While no fatalities were reported, 37 people sustained injuries, with one person being hospitalized.

    The ExxonMobil Olefins Chemical Plant explosion highlighted the ongoing challenges and risks associated with the petrochemical industry, particularly the need for robust safety measures and equipment maintenance. It also raised concerns about the potential environmental and health impacts of such incidents in heavily industrialized regions.

  • The Phillips 66 Chemical Plant Explosion – Texas

    On October 23, 1989, the Phillips Disaster struck the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena, Texas, when a series of explosions and fires erupted at the Phillips 66 chemical plant, resulting in the deaths of 23 workers and injuring over 130 others. The incident occurred during routine maintenance when a flammable hydrocarbon mixture escaped from a pipe, ignited, and triggered a chain reaction of explosions and fires that engulfed the facility. This disaster sent shockwaves through the community and the petrochemical industry, prompting extensive investigations and leading to significant changes in safety regulations and procedures.

    The Phillips Disaster exposed serious safety shortcomings within the chemical industry, including inadequate emergency response plans, insufficient training, and outdated equipment. As a result of the explosion, safety regulations and practices in the petrochemical sector were reevaluated and enhanced to prevent similar disasters in the future.

  • Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery Fire – Illinois

    On February 10, 2019, a fire erupted in the Distilling Unit #2 at the Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery during the startup phase following a scheduled maintenance outage. The incident occurred due to an operational error when operators mistakenly opened the wrong valve, directing hydrocarbons into a heat exchanger that should have been bypassed. As a result, liquid hydrocarbons entered the exchanger’s shell side, causing an over-pressurization that released hydrocarbons through an open pipe. These hydrocarbons subsequently sprayed onto the exchanger platform structure, encountering an ignition source, leading to a fire that lasted approximately 50 minutes. One contract worker was injured in the fire.

  • The Texas City Refinery Explosion – Texas

    On March 23, 2005, a catastrophic explosion at the Texas City Refinery, owned by BP (British Petroleum), shocked the nation and resulted in significant loss of life and property. The explosion occurred when a hydrocarbon vapor cloud ignited, causing a massive blast that left 15 people dead and more than 180 others injured. The Texas City Refinery explosion ranks as one of the deadliest industrial accidents in U.S. history.

    The explosion was the result of a series of failures and safety lapses within the refinery, including inadequate maintenance, faulty equipment, and a flawed safety culture. Investigations revealed that several warning signs of a potential disaster had been ignored or overlooked. The explosion not only had devastating human consequences but also caused extensive damage to the facility and surrounding areas, with debris scattered over a wide radius. This tragic event prompted a reevaluation of safety practices within the petrochemical industry and emphasized the critical importance of proper maintenance, training, and oversight to prevent such disasters in the future.

  • The West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion – Texas

    On April 17, 2013, a devastating explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. in the rural town of West, Texas, left 15 people dead, over 200 injured, and hundreds of homes reduced to rubble. Federal investigators determined this tragic incident was the result of criminal activity.

    The force of the explosion was so immense that it registered as a magnitude-2.1 earthquake. A 93-foot-wide crater scarred the site of the fertilizer plant, where hazardous chemicals, including ammonium nitrate, were stored. The blast flattened the farming community, leaving around 2,800 residents in shock as their homes turned to rubble. Tragically, ten first responders and two volunteers were among those killed while battling the initial blaze.

  • The Phillips K-Resin Plant Explosion – Texas

    On March 27, 2000, tragedy struck at Phillips Petroleum’s Houston Chemical Complex in Pasadena, Texas, when an explosion and fire at the K-Resin facility resulted in one fatality and 71 injuries. The explosion occurred in a tank undergoing cleaning. The tank lacked pressure and temperature gauges that could have alerted workers.

    Following a six-month investigation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) attributed the explosion to a failure to train workers properly. OSHA proposed $2.5 million in penalties for 50 alleged safety standard violations at the facility. Rodney Gott, a supervisor who had previously survived the Phillips Disaster of 1989, tragically lost his life in the incident.

  • The Imperial Sugar Refinery Explosion – Georgia

    On February 7, 2008, a sugar dust explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia, claimed 14 lives and left 38 people injured. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s report, released in September 2009, deemed the explosion “entirely preventable.”

    The explosion, fueled by a massive accumulation of combustible sugar dust, originated in the packaging facility at the center of the refinery. The blast caused extensive damage, turning the structure into a maze of twisted metal. The refinery’s fire suppression system was ineffective, leading to a challenging firefighting operation.

    The incident was not unforeseen, as dust explosions had contributed to fatal incidents just five years earlier. Understanding the dynamics of dust explosions is important, considering the broad range of industries susceptible to such disasters.

  • The Dupont La Porte Chemical Facility Toxic Chemical Release – Texas

    On November 15, 2014, a tragic incident occurred at the DuPont La Porte Chemical Facility in La Porte, Texas, when 24,000 pounds of methyl mercaptan were unintentionally released from vent piping during startup and troubleshooting operations at an insecticide production plant. The release of methyl mercaptan proved fatal, taking the lives of four employees and causing injuries to two additional employees.

    The incident stemmed from a shutdown of the DuPont Lannate process on November 10, during which a portion of the methyl mercaptan piping in the reaction section became obstructed due to the formation of a solid hydrate. Over several days, plant personnel engaged in troubleshooting efforts and eventually identified and dislodged the plug using hot water on the outside of the piping. As part of the troubleshooting process, plant personnel opened valves from the mercaptan piping to the waste gas vent header to relieve pressure. Unfortunately, the vent header provided an open pathway into an interior building through drain lines, allowing the released methyl mercaptan liquids to enter the building. This incapacitated multiple plant personnel who were troubleshooting the issue and responding to alarms, leading to injuries and fatalities.

  • The Kleen Energy Natural Gas Explosion – Connecticut

    On Sunday, February 7, 2010, a catastrophic natural gas explosion rocked the Kleen Energy power plant, which was under construction in Middletown, Connecticut, resulting in a tragic loss of six lives and leaving more than 50 individuals injured. The incident occurred during the commissioning and startup phase of the Kleen Energy project while workers were engaged in the planned cleaning of fuel gas piping. Specifically, they were conducting a procedure known as a “gas blow,” which involved forcing natural gas through the piping at high pressure and volume to remove debris. Unfortunately, during this process, the natural gas and debris were released directly into the atmosphere.

    The Kleen Energy construction site used natural gas at an approximate pressure of 650 pounds per square inch gauge (psig), and a total of 15 natural gas blows were performed intermittently over approximately four hours through open-ended pipes located less than 20 feet off the ground, adjacent to the south wall of the main power generation building.

  • ConAgra Foods Plant Explosion – North Carolina

    On June 9, 2009, a tragic explosion occurred at the ConAgra Foods plant during the installation of an industrial water heater by a contractor from Energy Systems Analysts (ESA). The ESA worker attempted to purge air from a three-inch natural gas supply pipe for the heater, using natural gas for the process. As per ESA’s standard practices, the purged gases were vented into a utility room equipped with a ventilation fan. Struggling to light the heater, the workers continued purging the gas line for over two and a half hours. Plant personnel were aware of this indoor purging and relied on their sense of smell to detect any potential gas buildups.

    The explosion resulted in significant damage to approximately 100,000 square feet of the facility, mainly in the southern part where packing operations were conducted. The blast also triggered a leak from the plant’s refrigeration system, releasing approximately 18,000 pounds of ammonia.

    Tragically, four workers lost their lives, including a member of ConAgra’s safety team who heroically attempted to rescue a co-worker and was killed by falling debris. Additionally, 71 people were hospitalized with injuries, including three firefighters who were exposed to ammonia during the incident.

  • The LyondellBasell La Porte Fatal Chemical Release – Texas

    On July 27, 2021, a tragic chemical release occurred at the LyondellBasell La Porte Complex in La Porte, Texas, resulting in the loss of two lives and injuries to several workers. Three contract workers employed by Turn2 Specialty Companies were tasked with removing an actuator from a plug valve within the site’s acetic acid unit to use the valve as an energy isolation device for a pipe spool repair job. During the process, the workers removed pressure-retaining components of the valve, causing the plug to be ejected from the valve body. This resulted in the sudden release of approximately 164,000 pounds of acetic acid mixture, spraying all three contract workers with the corrosive substance.

    Tragically, two of the workers suffered fatal injuries due to chemical burns and toxic inhalation resulting from exposure to acetic acid and methyl iodide. Additionally, the third Turn2 worker and a LyondellBasell responder sustained serious injuries, while 29 other personnel were transported to medical facilities for evaluation and treatment.

  • D.D. Williamson & Co.Catastrophic Vessel Explosion – Kentucky

    A catastrophic explosion at D.D. Williamson & Co., Inc. claimed the life of one operator. The explosion damaged the facility’s western end, releasing 26,000 pounds of aqua ammonia. The explosion led to the evacuation of 26 residents and required 1,500 people to shelter in place.

  • Chemical Explosion at First Chemical Corp. – Mississippi

    The First Chemical Corporation (FCC) facility in Pascagoula, Mississippi, exploded on October 13, 2002, caused by steam leaking through manual valves, inadvertently heating mononitrotoluene within a shutdown distillation column. With approximately 1,200 gallons of MNT present, decomposition occurred over several days, causing a runaway reaction and subsequent explosion. Debris from the blast ignited a fire in an MNT storage tank alongside multiple smaller fires both onsite and offsite.

  • Kaltech Industries Explosion – New York

    The Kaltech Industries Group, Inc., a sign manufacturer, was responsible for an explosion in New York City. While consolidating hazardous waste from smaller containers into larger drums, an explosion and subsequent fire erupted, injuring at least 36 individuals, including citizens and six firefighters.

  • Vapor Cloud Fire at BLSR Operating Ltd. – Texas

    The BLSR Operating, Ltd, facility in Rosharon, Texas, exploded on January 13, 2003, resulting in the death of two BLSR employees and serious burns to three others, including two Environmental Services Inc. truck drivers who had just completed a delivery. One of the truck drivers died from his injuries.

  • DPC Enterprises Festus Chlorine Spill

    A chlorine gas leak from a railroad tank car owned by DPC Enterprises, caused over 48,000 pounds of chlorine gas to leak into the air over three hours, resulting in the hospitalization of 63 members of the community.

  • Third Coast Industries Facility Petroleum Fire  – Texas

    Third Coast Industries, a facility that specializes in blending and packaging various types of oils and lubricants, caught on fire on May 1, 2002. Since the building was not equipped with adequate fire prevention, despite the efforts of the firefighters, the fire could not be contained. The fire destroyed the facility, 1.2 million gallons of flammable liquids, and led to the evacuation of 100 residents.

  • Georgia-Pacific Corp. Hydrogen Sulfide Leak – Alabama

    On January 16, 2002, a leak of hydrogen sulfide gas occurred at the Georgia-Pacific Naheola mill in Pennington, Alabama. Two contractors from Burkes Construction lost their lives, and eight others were injured.

  • Motiva Enterprises Sulfuric Acid Tank Explosion – Delaware

    On July 17, 2001, an explosion occurred at Motiva Enterprises’s Delaware City Refinery in Delaware City, Delaware. The explosion happened while contractors were conducting repairs on a catwalk grating in a sulfuric acid storage tank farm. The explosion led to the death of Jeffrey Davis, a boilermaker working with WGI. The incident also resulted in injuries to eight other individuals.

  • BP Amoco Thermal Breakdown Explosion – Georgia

    On March 13, 2001, a pressure explosion at BP Amoco Polymers in Augusta, Georgia, left three people dead. The pressure explosion happened when a partially loosened cover of a pressurized vessel was ejected, releasing hot plastic. This sudden release also caused nearby tubing to rupture, leading to the spillage of hot fluid which then ignited, resulting in a fire.

  • Concept Sciences Hydroxylamine Explosion – Pennsylvania

    Concept Sciences chemical plant in Allentown, Pennsylvania, had a vessel containing a large amount of hydroxylamine, explode on February 19, 1999. The explosion happened while employees were conducting the first commercial distillation of an HA and potassium sulfate solution at CSI’s new facility. Following the completion of the distillation process, the HA underwent explosive decomposition, likely triggered by its high concentration and temperature within the process tank and pipes. The explosion resulted in the death of four CSI employees and a manager from a neighboring business. Additionally, two CSI employees suffered moderate to serious injuries but survived. The blast also injured four individuals in adjacent buildings, and during the emergency response, six firefighters and two security guards incurred minor injuries.

    The explosion resulted in the death of four CSI employees and a manager from a neighboring business. Additionally, two CSI employees sustained moderate to serious injuries but survived. The blast also injured four individuals in adjacent buildings, and during the emergency response, six firefighters and two security guards incurred minor injuries.

  • Bethlehem Steel Corp. Gas Fire – Indiana

    Two people were killed and four people injured in the February 2, 2001 Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s mill fire in Chesterton, Indiana. The fire occurred when workers removed a slip blind from a cracked valve, allowing a flammable liquid to escape and catch fire. The incident claimed the lives of a millwright from Bethlehem Steel and a contractor supervisor.

  • Tosco Avon Refinery Petroleum Naphtha Fire – California

    A naphtha-caused fire at Tosco Corporation’s Avon refinery in Martinez, California, killed four workers and seriously injured one. This fire was the result of Naphtha, a highly flammable chemical, leaking onto hot equipment. The fire engulfed five workers at various levels of the tower.

  • Enterprise Pascagoula Gas Plant Explosion –
    Mississipi

    The Enterprise Products Pascagoula Gas Plant in Mississippi experienced a significant loss of containment which led to the release and subsequent ignition of methane, ethanem propane, and other hydrocarbons triggering multiple explosions and fires on June 27, 2016. The damage was extensive, causing the plant to shut down for almost six months, and causing considerable stress throughout the community, with many residents opting to evacuate. The financial toll on Enterprise Products from this event included $10.4 million in fire response expenses and a non-cash loss of $7.1 million.

    A community organization later voiced concerns to the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) about the lack of clear guidance on how to react in such situations, indicating a need for better communication and emergency preparedness.

  • Midland Resource Explosion – West Virginia

    The Midland Resource Recovery facility in Philippi, West Virginia, suffered an explosion, which claimed the lives of two workers and severely injured another, on May 24, 2017. The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) launched an investigation in response to the incident on May 28, 2017. While the investigation was ongoing, the facility exploded again, claiming the life of a contractor  from Specialized Professional Services, Inc. (SPSI), a company engaged by MRR for post-explosion investigation and mitigation efforts.

    The CSB’s investigation showed the likely cause of both explosions was the reaction of unstable chemicals during the process of draining chemically treated liquid from natural gas odorizer equipment. It was found that MRR did not have an effective safety management system in place to identify and mitigate the hazards associated with reactive chemicals, subsequently causing the fatal explosions. This absence of safety protocols and safeguards significantly increased the risk of unexpected and uncontrollable chemical reactions.

  • Hydrogen Sulfide Release at Aghorn Operating
    Waterflood Station – Texas

    An Aghorn Operating Inc. Facility, in Odessa, Texas, suffered a fatal H2S gas leak, leading to the death of two people. One of the people who lost their life was an employee who was responding to an oil level alarm at the Foster D waterflood station. Attempting to manage the situation, the employee tried to isolate the pump by adjusting its discharge and suction valves without implementing a proper Lockout/Tagout procedure to securely disconnect the pump from its energy sources. The pump unexpectedly activated, resulting in the discharge of water laced with hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas—a highly toxic substance—due to a broken plunger within the pump. Following the incident, the employee’s spouse went into the watershed in search of the employee and was lethally exposed to H2S gas, ultimately losing her life due to exposure.

    The sequence of events leading to the pump’s failure and the subsequent release of H2S-laden water remains unclear due to a lack of substantial evidence. It is uncertain whether the malfunction had already taken place prior to the employee’s arrival or occurred as a result of the pump being inadvertently activated while the employee was attempting to isolate it.

  • Hot Work Fire: Evergreen Packaging Paper Mill –
    North Carolina

    Maintenance and upgrade activities were taking place during a planned shutdown across the Evergreen Packaging Mill facility in Canton, North Carolina. The upflow tower, made of fiber- reinforced plastic (FRP), was undergoing repairs by Blastco. The process involved applying flammable epoxy vinyl ester resin and fiberglass sheets to the interior surfaces to combat corrosion. However, cooler-than-expected temperatures slowed the curing process of the resin, causing the applied materials to slip down the tower walls. Despite various attempts to rectify the situation, the Blastco workers ultimately resorted to using a portable electric heat gun to expedite the resin’s hardening. This decision created an ignition hazard in the presence of the flammable resin, which led to the fire.

  • Packaging Corporation of America Explosion –
    Louisiana

    A foul condensate tank exploded during a planned shutdown at the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) in DeRidder, Louisiana, resulting in the death of three individuals and injuries to seven other contract workers. The explosion caused the foul tank to be propelled over 375 feet and caused significant damage to the facilities.
    The foul condensate tank in question was likely to have contained a mixture of water and a flammable layer of liquid turpentine. This volatile combination contributed to the severity of the explosion and its devastating impact on the mill and its workers.

  • Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) Refinery
    Explosion – Philadelphia

    On June 21, 2019, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery experienced a significant incident when a pipe elbow in the hydrofluoric acid (HF) alkylation unit burst. This rupture released a vapor cloud containing mainly propane (95%), HF (2.5%), and other hydrocarbons, quickly enveloping a section of the unit. Within two minutes of the release, the vapor ignited, leading to a substantial fire. In response, the control room operator activated the Rapid Acid Deinventory (RAD) system, designed to transfer HF to a secure drum during containment loss or emergencies, successfully redirecting approximately 339,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid.
    However, attempts to activate the water pumps feeding the HF mitigation water cannons, intended to suppress airborne HF, were unsuccessful due to a communication failure in the control system and a concurrent backup power failure. These systems are crucial for mitigating the spread of HF by creating a water spray barrier.

    Subsequently, three explosions occurred within the unit, secondary to the initial fire. The most significant explosion resulted from the violent rupture of a vessel labeled V-1, which contained butylene, isobutane, and butane. This explosion propelled a 38,000-pound fragment of the V-1 vessel across the Schuylkill River, while two other large fragments landed within the refinery premises, weighing approximately 23,000 pounds and 15,500 pounds, respectively.

  • Flash Fire at Sunoco Logistics Partners – Texas

    At the Sunoco Nederland crude oil terminal, an explosion occurred during a welding operation conducted by L-Con, Inc., a contractor. The operation involved welding a segment of piping, which unexpectedly led to a flash fire and explosion around 8:15 p.m. CDT.

    This incident was precipitated by the overpressure in the pipe segment being worked on, which resulted in the expulsion of CARBER isolation tools—used in the project for pipe segment isolation—and residual crude oil within the pipe. The ejection of these materials caused impact and burn injuries to seven workers.

  • Pressure Vessel Explosion: Loy Lange Box
    Company – Missouri

    The Loy-Lange Box Company in St. Louis, Missouri, experienced a catastrophic explosion when a pressure vessel known as a Semi-Closed Receiver, part of the company’s steam system, failed dramatically. This failure led to a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE), resulting in the death of an employee who was working in close proximity to the vessel at the time of the explosion. The force of the explosion was so intense that it propelled the pressure vessel out of the Loy-Lange facility and into the air, causing it to crash through the roof of a neighboring business, where it tragically killed three people.

    The St. Louis Fire Department responded quickly to the scene of the disaster. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted thorough investigations into the causes and circumstances surrounding this fatal explosion.

  • Massive Explosion at AB Specialty Silicones, LLC –
    Illinois

    The AB Specialty Silicones manufacturing plant in Waukegan, Illinois, had a critical error occur during a manual batch operation where operators mixed chemicals in a tank. An operator inadvertently pumped the wrong chemical into the tank due to the similar appearance of the storage drums, which only had small distinguishing labels and bung caps. The accidental combination of incompatible chemicals initiated a chemical reaction, leading to a process upset characterized by the tank’s contents foaming and spilling over. This reaction produced hydrogen gas within the facility, which subsequently ignited, resulting in a devastating explosion and fire.

    This tragic event led to the loss of four employees’ lives and inflicted severe damage on the production building. The destruction necessitated the temporary cessation and relocation of certain operations until the facility could be reconstructed.

  • Husky Energy Superior Refinery Explosion –
    Wisconsin

    Husky Energy’s Superior Refining Company LLC refinery in Superior, Wisconsin, experienced a significant explosion and fire during a scheduled maintenance shutdown involving 800-900 personnel. The refinery reported the release of 39,000 pounds of flammable hydrocarbon vapor during the incident. This led to injuries among 36 workers, with 11 sustaining injuries that were recordable by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and inflicted property damage estimated at $550 million.

    The explosion, which occurred at 9:58 a.m. during the shutdown of the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, involved two vessels within the unit, causing a powerful blast felt up to a mile away and scattering metal debris over a large area. This debris compromised a nearby asphalt tank, leading to a spill of hot asphalt that eventually ignited around noon, triggering multiple fires across the refinery. The severity of the situation prompted the evacuation of 2,507 residents from the surrounding areas and a shelter-in-place advisory in Duluth, Minnesota. The fires were successfully extinguished before midnight, allowing evacuation and shelter-in-place orders to be lifted by the following morning at 6:00 a.m.

  • Bio-Lab Lake Charles Incident – Louisiana

    On August 27, 2020, the Bio-Lab, Inc. facility in Westlake, Louisiana, faced severe damage from Category 4 Hurricane Laura’s extreme winds. The buildings storing chemical formulations primarily containing trichloroisocyanuric acid (TCCA) suffered significant destruction. TCCA-based formulations are commonly used as sanitizers in swimming pools and hot tubs to eliminate algae and bacteria. However, when these formulations encounter even small amounts of water without dissolving, they can undergo a chemical reaction, generating heat and producing toxic chlorine gas and potentially explosive nitrogen trichloride. Following the hurricane damage, rainwater infiltrated the damaged buildings, initiating a chemical reaction and decomposition of the stored TCCA-based formulation. This reaction caused a fire and released hazardous gases, including toxic chlorine, into the air.

    The plume of hazardous gases extended beyond the facility, prompting the closure of a section of Interstate 10 for over 28 hours and necessitating a shelter-in-place order from the Calcasieu Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Despite the significant destruction, there were no reported injuries from the incident. Subsequently, approximately $250 million was invested in redesigning and completely reconstructing the damaged Bio-Lab facility, which resumed production operations around March 2023.

  • Wacker Polysilicon Chemical Release – Tennessee

    A distressing explosion unfolded at the Wacker Polysilicon North America (Wacker) facility in Charleston, Tennessee, when a graphite heat exchanger cracked during maintenance activities, leading to the release of gaseous hydrogen chloride (HCl). The mishap occurred on the fifth floor of an equipment access structure, where a contractor pipefitter applied excessive torque to flange bolts on a heat exchanger outlet pipe containing HCl, resulting in the pipe cracking and releasing the harmful gas. At the time of the incident, seven workers from two contract firms were present on the fifth-floor platform, which had only one staircase for access and egress. Three workers, equipped with full-body chemical-resistant suits, were tasked with bolt torquing, while the remaining four, wearing standard flame-resistant clothing, were assigned to insulate equipment. The dense white cloud created by the released HCl obstructed visibility, preventing all workers from accessing the staircase for evacuation.

    As a result, three contractor workers without full-body chemical-resistant suits attempted to descend by climbing down piping on the structure’s side, approximately 70 feet above the ground. Tragically, all three workers fell, resulting in one fatality and serious injuries to the other two. After the HCl release ceased, the remaining four workers on the fifth-floor platform utilized the staircase to evacuate safely, although the incident caused $214,000 in property damage at the Wacker site.

  • Fatal Explosion and Fire at Watson Grinding – Texas

    Tragedy struck at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing Co. (Watson Grinding) facility in Houston, Texas, when an accidental release of propylene accumulated and detonated inside a building. This explosion led to the tragic deaths of two employees and caused injuries to two others, along with a nearby resident who also lost their life. The blast wreaked havoc on the surrounding area, damaging hundreds of nearby structures, including homes and several businesses. Subsequently, on February 6, 2020, Watson Grinding filed for bankruptcy and ceased its operations.

    Following the incident, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) conducted an investigation and determined that a hose disconnected from its fitting within a coating booth (Booth 4), releasing propylene, a highly flammable hydrocarbon vapor. This propylene buildup occurred inside the coating building before the explosion. When Watson Grinding employees arrived the next morning, they unwittingly encountered an explosive concentration of propylene within the building. Tragically, when one of the employees switched on the lights, igniting the flammable propylene vapor, it resulted in a devastating explosion.

  • Explosion and Fire at Optima Belle – West Virginia

    An explosion occurred at Optima Belle LLC (Optima Belle) in Belle, West Virginia. The explosion originated from a pressure-rated rotary double cone dryer containing sodium dichloroisocyanurate dihydrate (NaDCC dihydrate), also known as CDB-56®, causing a subsequent fire and the release of toxic chlorine. Local authorities swiftly issued a shelter-in-place order for the region within a two-mile radius of the Optima Belle site, which remained in effect for over four hours. The explosion caused significant property damage, with debris scattered nearly half a mile from the site and resulting in one fatality among Optima Belle employees, while two others experienced respiratory irritation, and one Kanawha County resident sustained a minor leg injury.

    The incident unfolded during Optima Belle’s process of dehydrating CDB-56® to produce anhydrous sodium dichloroisocyanurate under a contractual agreement with Clearon Corporation through tolling outsourcing partner Richman Chemical Inc. (RCI). Unexpectedly, the chlorinated isocyanurate compound underwent a decomposition reaction while inside the dryer unit, releasing gases that exceeded the dryer’s design pressure, leading to the explosion. Metal debris and fragments from the dryer were ejected off-site and within the facility, striking a methanol pipe and igniting a fire. The estimated property damage incurred by Optima Belle from the explosion totals $33.1 million. Responders from various agencies, including the Chemours Belle site fire brigade, Belle Volunteer Fire Department, Kanawha County Emergency Management, and West Virginia Emergency Management, quickly mobilized to manage the aftermath of the incident.

  • Tank Fire Incident at Intercontinental Terminals
    Company (ITC) – Texas

    A significant fire broke out at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) facility in Deer Park, Texas, starting near an 80,000-barrel storage tank containing a flammable naphtha and butane blend. ITC’s efforts to contain the fire were unsuccessful, leading to the fire’s escalation and spread across 14 additional tanks within the same containment area. After burning intensely for three days, the fire was finally extinguished on March 20. This incident led to the destruction of fifteen 80,000-barrel tanks and their contents, causing extensive property damage at the ITC terminal. The environmental repercussions of the fire were severe. A breach in the containment wall allowed approximately 470,000 to 523,000 barrels of hydrocarbon products, firefighting foam, and contaminated water to spill into Tucker Bayou, subsequently affecting nearby water bodies and ecosystems, including the Houston Ship Channel.

    This spill prompted the closure of a seven-mile section of the channel and several local parks due to contamination risks. Despite no reported injuries or fatalities, the event significantly disrupted the local community, necessitating shelter-in-place orders due to air quality concerns from benzene, closures of schools and businesses, and traffic disruptions. The estimated property damage from the incident surpassed $150 million.

  • Vapor Cloud Explosion and Fire at Yenkin-Majestic
    Resin Plant – Ohio

    On the early hours of April 8, 2021, a catastrophic event unfolded at the Yenkin-Majestic OPC Polymers resin plant in Columbus, Ohio, when a mix of naphtha solvent vapors and resin liquid became pressurized and escaped through a closed manway seal in an operational kettle. This release led to the formation of a flammable vapor cloud within and around the facility. Within two minutes, at 12:04 a.m., this vapor cloud ignited, causing a massive explosion followed by a significant fire that took approximately 11 hours to extinguish, with over 100 firefighters, including hazmat teams, battling the blaze. The explosion inflicted damage on the Yenkin-Majestic premises and a neighboring commercial property, with the impact felt widely across Columbus, as reported by local news.

    The tragic incident resulted in one employee losing their life due to thermal injuries and smoke inhalation, found beneath debris within the plant. Eight others sustained serious injuries, necessitating hospitalization, with injuries ranging from third-degree burns to limb fractures; one individual required a leg amputation due to being trapped under the wreckage. Additionally, the firefighting efforts led to water runoff entering Alum Creek, causing environmental concerns noted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency until at least April 11. Following the incident, Yenkin-Majestic reported property damages exceeding $90 million and proceeded to demolish the heavily damaged resin plant.

  • Explosion and Fire Incident at Didion Milling
    Company – Wisconsin

    The Didion Milling, Inc. facility in Cambria, Wisconsin, was the site of several devastating combustible dust explosions, resulting in the deaths of five employees and injuries to 14 others. Out of 124 employees at the Cambria site, 19 were present when the explosions occurred around 11:00 p.m. Earlier that day, Didion had made modifications to the discharge systems of two rotary gap mills to boost production. During the evening’s operations, employees detected the smell of smoke within the mill and began to search for its origin, suspecting it was coming from the first floor of one of the buildings. While investigating, an explosion was heard, followed by the sight of fire emanating from the discharge piping of the rotary gap mill equipment. The ensuing chaos, exacerbated by unclear radio communications, led to a hasty evacuation. The initial fire led to a deflagration that propagated through interconnected dust collection systems, triggering explosions in some of these systems and resulting in subsequent secondary explosions throughout the facility. Many employees, unaware of the unfolding emergency, were caught off-guard by the explosions.

    The catastrophic event caused multiple buildings within the mill to collapse, with the Multipurpose Building, F Mill, and the Boiler House being completely destroyed, and significant damages to others, rendering some areas inaccessible. The estimated property damage amounted to approximately $15.38 million, with no reported damages or repercussions beyond the site.

  • Foundation Food Group Fatal Chemical Release –
    Georgia

    A tragic explosion unfolded at the Foundation Food Group facility in Gainesville, Georgia when liquid nitrogen overflowed from an immersion freezer in the Plant 4 building. This occurred between 8:45 and 10:15 a.m. as maintenance workers were addressing operational problems with the freezer, a piece of equipment provided by Messer LLC and leased to FFG. The escaped liquid nitrogen quickly turned into gas, filling a poorly ventilated lower-level room and leading to the asphyxiation and death of the two maintenance workers involved in the troubleshooting. The situation worsened as the release went unnoticed for up to an hour until another employee, in search of the maintenance workers, encountered a significant vapor cloud.

    The discovery prompted management to evacuate the building. However, during the evacuation and subsequent response efforts, four more FFG employees succumbed to asphyxiation, and three other employees, along with a firefighter, sustained serious injuries. In the aftermath, FFG initiated legal action against its insurance company, seeking approximately $1.7 million in damages, while Messer reported losses close to $245,000.

  • Fatal Fire and Explosion Incident at KMCO LLC –
    Texas

    The KMCO facility in Crosby, Texas, experienced a devastating explosion caused by a cloud of flammable isobutylene vapor. This tragic incident led to the death of one KMCO employee and severe injuries to two others; additionally, 28 workers sustained injuries. Following the explosion, local authorities implemented a shelter-in-place order for residents within a 1-mile radius, which lasted until approximately 3:15 p.m.

    The explosion occurred during the production of sulfurized isobutylene, a lubrication additive, when a metal piece broke off a y-strainer in the supply piping, releasing isobutylene. A field operator, who was still in training, noticed the issue immediately after hearing the noise from the broken strainer. After a quick exchange with a contract insulator leaving the area, he alerted the control room, triggering a swift response from the operations team to halt the isobutylene leak, evacuate the area, and attempt to prevent the vapor cloud from igniting.

  • Fatal Explosion at Wendland 1H Well – Texas

    A catastrophic explosion occurred at the Daniel H. Wendland 1-H well in Burleson County, Texas, operated by Chesapeake Operating, L.L.C. The well lost control, leading to a blowout where oil and gas rapidly escaped and ignited, causing a severe flash fire around the well site. This tragic incident resulted in the deaths of three contract workers due to fatal burn injuries, with one succumbing to their injuries at the scene and two others later in the hospital. A fourth worker also sustained serious burns.

    During the incident, workers were engaged in installing a new tubing head as part of maintenance work on the well. Meanwhile, employees were preparing for their subsequent task of fitting tubing inside the well. The explosion and fire not only claimed lives but also led to the destruction of the workover rig and several vehicles in the vicinity, illustrating the extreme hazards associated with well operations and the importance of stringent safety measures.

Common Injuries Resulting from Explosions

Explosions can occur in refineries, plants, and anywhere natural gas or hydrocarbons are stored, processed, transported, or used. Every year, explosions kill and injure thousands of men and women, both in and out of the workplace. Explosions, fires, and chemical release accidents are preventable. The injuries or deaths from these accidents are usually due to negligent acts and omissions of the premises owner and contractors, as well as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations. Many times, the guilty party has a history of OSHA violations or a reputation for being in a dangerous place to work.

Some of these most common plant explosion injuries include:

  • Death
  • Burn Injuries
  • Catastrophic injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress/anguish

Plant explosion injuries often lead to many challenges for workers before they can even think of getting back to work. These roadblocks can include future medical expenses, disability (permanent or temporary), disfigurement, and rehabilitation.

The highly skilled Houston plant explosion attorneys at The Ammons Law Firm have the experience and resources to hold companies that cause explosions fully accountable.

Proving Liability in Explosion Cases

Determining who is at fault in a claim of negligence against someone who has caused an explosion is a complicated issue, typically requiring years of experience by lawyers with the resources to deconstruct the steps leading to an accident. Our plant explosion lawyers start this process by first establishing a duty of care—in other words, determining which person or entity is ultimately responsible for making sure no one is harmed while work is being done.

Once a plaintiff has established the existence of a duty of care, they must show the defendant did not fulfill that duty. Generally, a duty is considered breached if the defendant failed to act or acted in a way that caused the accident. Then, the workplace accident attorney must show causation. This means the plaintiff must not only prove the existence of a duty and breach of that duty but also that the breach of duty caused the injuries complained of. This means establishing a “link” between the defendant’s actions and the resulting injury.

Finally, if duty and causation have been proven, the plaintiff must also prove that he or she suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Damages can include lost wages and medical costs, but also pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Without damages, there can be no claim.

Our Recent Plant Explosion Verdicts

“We recently secured a record-setting verdict for the family of a client killed in Hood County, Texas,” says Rob Ammons of The Ammons Law Firm. “An operator was working at a natural gas plant. The plant had what is called a hot oil heater. The hot oil heater had been improperly installed and had not been properly engineered. While the operator was using this heater, actually trying to light it, there was an explosion, resulting in his death.”

Rob Ammons and his team of plant explosion lawyers are committed to holding rule breakers responsible when they hurt or kill members of the community, as well as setting safety standards to prevent such accidents from occurring in the future.

Contact The Industrial & Chemical Plant Injury Attorneys Today

If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a plant explosion or accident, you deserve justice. Our team of plant explosion attorneys will answer your questions and get you the justice you deserve.

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