A chemical plant explosion over the weekend in Pasadena has once again highlighted the dangers involved in chemical production in Texas and may further the ongoing discussion about chemical safety rules.
The explosion happened early Saturday afternoon at the hydrogen peroxide plant run by PeroxyChem in the Bayport complex. The company is based in Philadelphia and is a global producer of chemicals including hydrogen peroxide, peracetic acid, persulfates and “adjacent technologies,” according to the company’s website.
News reports indicate that the chemical plant explosion was caused by an over-pressurized tank containing about 1,000 gallons of an oil-based cleaning solution. A contractor on the site was killed in the explosion and three other people were injured. One person suffered a broken arm and two others were taken to a hospital to be treated for chemical exposure.
Local media report that PeroxyChem issued a statement indicating the contractor’s equipment had exploded while workers were performing a routine function.
A Tragic History for Texas Chemical Plants
Unfortunately, fatal accidents at chemical production plants are familiar to local residents. Another Houston-area chemical plant made headlines in November 2014 when the DuPont Chemical plant in La Porte when four workers were killed by a deadly gas leak that resulted in the company being fined $372,000 by OSHA.
The DuPont plant was alleged to have had an inadequate toxic gas detection system and broken rooftop ventilation fans, and to have failed to inform workers about breathing protection equipment needed to drain blocked pipes.
And, of course, the massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant in West, Texas, near Waco, made national news and became the subject of discussion in Washington, D.C., about chemical plant safety after 15 people were killed and 226 were wounded in an accident that the U.S. Chemical Safety Board chairman said “should never have occurred.”
“It resulted from the failure of a company to take the necessary steps to avert a preventable fire and explosion and from the inability of federal, state and local regulatory agencies to identify a serious hazard and correct it,” Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said, according to CNN.
Federal Chemical Safety Reforms Remain Pending
Critics of the chemical production industry have said reforms are needed to protect the safety of workers, the community, and the environment from chemical explosions and spills.
The U.S. Senate passed reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act in December 2015 giving the Environmental Protection Agency greater oversight over chemical manufacturing, processing, distribution, use, and disposal. However, the House has yet to agree to the measure.
In the meantime, workers and contractors continue to be exposed to significant risks in this hazardous industry, particularly when safety procedures are inadequate to protect them.
Contact our Experienced Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been injured while working in a Texas chemical plant, the experienced Houston personal injury lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. can help. You may have options for pursuing a personal injury claim and obtaining compensation for your medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment, and disfigurement caused by a work-related accident.
Our attorneys have the dedication, skill, and resources to help injured petrochemical workers obtain the maximum possible compensation for their injuries and losses. Call (281) 283-8500 today to schedule a free consultation or use our online contact form.