Causes of Texas Oil and Gas Refinery Explosions

There is little doubt that workers in the oil and gas industry are toiling in one of the most dangerous industries in Texas and the entire country. These workers face a great many risks every day, but no risk is more potentially devastating and even fatal than the possibility of a refinery explosion. That is one reason why employers in the industry must be held to a very high standard with regard to safety, especially in Texas, which has the heaviest concentration of dangerous oil and gas refineries in the country.

The refining process involves the handling of a lot of toxic and volatile chemicals, which means Texas oil refineries have experienced a great many explosions. Even the slightest defect in any of the materials used in an oil and gas refinery could have catastrophic consequences due to extreme volatility. Chemicals are constantly under tremendous pressure throughout the extraction and refining processes, which means all pipes and containers must be of the highest quality. While workers at nearly any industrial workplace run the risk of chemical explosion, the risk at a refinery is even greater due to the production and reaction of volatile materials as well as the reactions of various chemicals and the heat buildup.

There are many situations in an oil and gas refinery that can lead to a plant explosion, although some are more common than others.

Among the most commonly cited causes of oil and gas refinery explosions include:

  • Careless cigarette smoking
  • Improperly repaired or poorly maintained equipment
  • Defective or malfunctioning equipment
  • Unseen corrosion, due to a lack of required inspection
  • Poor safety procedures
  • Use of dirty or impure chemicals
  • Poor labeling of equipment and chemicals
  • Well blowouts
  • Unqualified or negligent subcontractors
  • Poorly trained workers

In many cases, a small fire that is not contained quickly can lead to an explosion, as can a natural disaster, like a lightning storm or an earthquake. In the vast majority of cases, refinery explosions are preventable, and they happen often because the facility owner, operator, and/or employer has decided that safety is less important than refining as much product as possible and maximizing profits. It is natural for a refinery operation to carry a certain level of danger, and workers understand this; however, when a company places speed and maintaining a possibly unrealistic schedule ahead of worker safety, the workplace explosion risk is increased exponentially.

Common Injuries from Refinery Explosions

Workers who are near a refinery explosion when it occurs are in extreme danger of being seriously injured or killed. Severe burns, traumatic brain injuries, shockwave injuries, being crushed by flying debris, nerve damage, and death are all possible. A refinery explosion can leave a worker permanently disfigured and paralyzed. The pain and suffering workers suffer while just trying to do their jobs is unparalleled and they deserve fair compensation for their injuries.

Keeping Workers Safe

Although the oil and gas industry works with volatile chemicals and materials, workers are still entitled to a reasonably safe workplace, which can be accomplished by providing proper safety equipment and training. Employers are responsible for providing workers with all of the tools and support they need to do their jobs. Employers that cut corners put their employees at risk.

Refinery explosions happen too often in Texas; and, too often, workers are told that their only potential avenue for recovery is workers’ compensation, which is often not true. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in an oil or gas refinery explosion, your damage may be the responsibility of a third party and you may be able to make a claim against them directly. If you or a loved one are a worker who has suffered any sort of injury as a result of an oil and gas refinery explosion, contact the Texas Oil and Gas Injury Attorneys at Liggett Law Group as soon as possible, so that we can take a look at the facts of your case and present you with options for protecting your rights. We have a lot of experience with these cases and we can help.