Articles Posted in Refinery Explosions

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On Saturday, January 16 the PeroxyChem Plant in Pasadena Texas exploded, killing one and injuring three others. The origin of the explosion, according to initial reports, was a storage tank used to store cleaning solution. One witness sitting in his truck outside the plant stated he felt the explosion vibration in his chest. Initial reports indicate that a contractor’s equipment exploded because it had been over pressurized.

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According to published reports. investigators have not identified the root cause of the Williams Olefins Explosion last week. But officials at the Williams Olefins facility confirmed Friday that propylene, the chemical that caught fire, had been identified as leaking from a corroded pipe just six months ago. While the OSHA and CSB investigations are not complete, it appears that the corroded pipe—at a petrochemical facility–was likely a potential cause of the massive deflagration.

Louisiana State Police confirmed Thursday the fire that raged at the Williams Olefins Refinery after the early morning blast was fed by propylene, one of two highly flammable chemicals produced by the plant. On Friday, plant manager Larry Bayer added that a major expansion project — which will increase the plant’s annual production capacity by 600 million pounds — was ongoing near the blast site and that the facility was busy with additional construction personnel.

But the company said it doesn’t yet know what triggered the propylene combustion that resulted in two fatalities and 77 injuries. It has also not answered questions about a December leak of propylene from a corroded pipe that was significant enough to trigger a shutdown of work in the immediate area and a response by the plant’s emergency brigade, according to a report sent by Williams to the state Department of Environmental Quality.
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A flash fire at the Hoeganaes Corporation facility in Gallatin, Tennessee has killed one worker and severely injured another. Wiley Sherburne, of Castalian Springs, TN was killed and Vernon Wayne Corley was injured when a flash fire occurred during maintenance on on a burner

The Hoeganaes facility makes liquid metal for gear parts, and was reported to be a dusty facility. Dust in the workplace can, and in this case did, pose a combustion hazard. These types of combustible dust explosions can often cause work injury and lead to Workers Compensation claims. With adequate housekeeping, however, dust explosion like this can be avoided.

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An explosion at an industrial facility in Gurnee, Ill., as caused one work injury. An electrical box outside a storage faciity exploded, throwing a sub-contractor back into a chain link fence, causing injuries to the man’s wrists and legs. Authorities believe there may have been a small hydrogen leak which caused the explosion.

Anytime there is an industrial accident like this, the injuries are both physical and mental. Workers who have experienced something like a workplace fire or explosion usually suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and often cannot return to work in the industrial setting. Because workers in industry can have a high rate of pay, the lost earnings incurred as a result of a work injury might be in the millions of dollars.

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Work injuries occur with some frequency at sea. While working on an offshore rig can be dangerous, proper workplace safety mechanisms and procedures can help reduce the frequency of work injury or death.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon exploded, taking the lives of 11 workers and injuring scores more. The explosion was preventable, was preventable had either Transocean or BP used a blowout preventer—-a mandatory safety device which is common. At the time of the explosion, the Deepwater Horizon was two days away from capping the oil well and handing off the pumping responsibilities to a production platform. During the disconnection process, the rig suffered a blowout. The rig’s blowout preventer—a 450 ton series of valves developed to prevent a gusher if drilling mud controll is overwhelmed—failed, allowing oil to escape into the Gulf of Mexico.
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Another oil refinery explosion has caused work injury and worker death, and has also led to the fling of workers compensation claims, this time in New Mexico. The Navajo Refinery, owned by Dallas, Texas based Holly Corp., exploded because the plant operator failed to follow safety instructions. According to a recently filed lawsuit, several workers were injured the the explosion, some suffering burn injury. Apparently, a large tank used to produce tar exploded, causing this incident.
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Kleen Energy Plant.jpgA state panel looking into the cause of the Middletown power plant explosion has begun its work. The panel, led by a federal judge, will identify the cause and origin of the explosion. The February 7, 2010 explosion killed 5 and injured scores more. It occurred when a natural gas pipeline was being purged. According to some reports, workers at the Kleen Energy power plant were overworked and working overtime at the time of the Middletown Explosion.

The Flynn Law Firm is a work injury, industrial accident, and Workers Compensation lawyer currently investigating claims related to the Kleen Energy explosion. If you have been involved in the Middletown explosion, you may be able to make a third party claim against contractors on the property and even Kleen Energy itself, as well as a claims against manufacturers of equipment, valves, and testing devices which were being used at the Kleen Energy power plant on February 7 and may have caused the explosion.

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The Middletown, Conneticut Kleen Energy power plant explosion investigation is underway, with OSHA and the Chemical Safety Board both on the property to determine the cause of the Kleen Power explosion and work injuries.

According to initial reports, the Kleen Energy power plant explosionoccurred while the plant was being built, and the property was occupied largely by construction workers and contractors. The blast occurred during the process of purging an underground, high-pressure natural gas pipeline running through the facility. There are reports that welding operations were not halted during this gas purge, and it appears that non-essential personnel were allowed to remain near the gas line, which, if true, would violate OSHA standards and commonsense. As a result, 5 workers were killed, with scores more injured.

The Flynn Law Firm is a refinery explosion, work accident, and industrial accident law firm, is currently investigating claims related to the Kleen Energy explosion in Middletown. If you were at the Kleen Energy Middletown power plant at the time of the explosion, or you were injured, you are entitled to bring a claim for your injuries. Contact the Flynn Law Firm today.

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Recently, the Chemical Safety Board released its Investigation Report related to the refinery explosion and Georgia workplace injuries which occurred as the Savannah Foods refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia on February 7, 2008. The report is 84 pages long, and outlines, in detail, the problems with the Imperial refinery which led to the blast.

The Chemical Safety Board report not only discuss the vast safety problems caused by the Imperial entities, but also discusses, and blames, other companies for contributing to the conditions which caused explosion. The American Institute of Baking provides audits and training on both food safety and occupational safety. According to the CSB, the AIB would assess the operations and practices of the Port Wentworth refinery and issue a participation certificate when the Imperial entities passed the audit. In May of 2007, the AIB issued a “superior” rating. AIB was well positioned, according to the CSB, to help the Imperial entities, its member companies, become informed about the hazards of combustible dust and could revise its training materials to include more information about the dangers of combustible dust.

The Flynn Law Firm is one of the Georgia worker injury attorneys currently representing workers injured in the Imperial disaster, and has learned about the details of the refinery explosion during the last year of litigation with certain Imperial entities.

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As a Georgia Workers’ Comp lawyer and Atlanta injury attorney representing workers in refinery explosions, boiler explosions, and other workplace accidents, I often see tragic accidents occur when a plant, or large piece of equipment at an industrial facility, is brought online or shutdown. Recently, a large work accident occurred at a refinery in Utah while the refinery’s crude unit was being restarted. Officials from the Tesoro refinery said liquid hydrocarbons were released from a flare stack during the restart effort after a power outage.

Oil companies, paper companies, and other industrial employers and premises owners have detailed checklists and procedures for firing equipment and boilers after a shutdown. Dangerous vapors and chemicals, like liquid hydrocarbons, should be evacuated from something like a crude unit, and the managers onsite should verify, and re-verify, that the unit is safe to fire prior to actually bringing it back online. Often, accidents like the Tesoro facility are brought about by management’s rush to get the refinery back in operation and a willful ignorance of internal safety procedures or OSHA guidelines regarding facility re-start after an outage.