Houston Oil and Gas Refinery Accident Attorneys
The oil and gas industry is a key industry in Texas employing hundreds of thousands of workers across our great State. Places next door to Houston like Texas City and Pasadena have some of the largest oil and gas refineries in the United States. Unfortunately, working in the oil and gas industry can be very hazardous. Because of the risks that oil and gas workers face on a day-to-day basis, there are volumes of Federal laws promulgated by the Occupational health and Safety Administration (OSHA) aimed at protecting workers and preventing refinery accidents. If you are a victim of an oil and gas refinery accident, you need a knowledgeable oil refinery accident lawyer who knows how to research the law and use it to hold the refinery owners responsible for their negligent failure to enforce the safety rules. Call Simmons and Fletcher today for a 100% free case evaluation. Get advice from a lawyer you can trust.
Oil Refineries and Why They Are Dangerous
An oil refinery is an industrial processing plant that separates the hydrocarbon molecules of crude oil thereby breaking the crude down into various components. The facilities typically take up hundreds of acres of property. They typically have at least one distillation unit and may have any number of other units that aid in the processing of the crude.
Petroleum is just one of the components produced by refineries. Other components generated from refining crude oil are used as the raw materials that chemical plants need to make plastics, nylon, detergents, solvents and other household items. The process in and of itself involves using extreme heats, energy and chemicals to convert matter from one form to another (such as liquids to gasses). The gasses and liquids are often highly flammable and can result in massive explosions if improperly mixed, ignited or handled. Furthermore, many of the chemicals and gasses are toxic and/or corrosive.
Because the materials being handled are dangerous, numerous safety precautions must be exercised. Proper use of safety equipment is an absolute must. Proper training of all employees, contractors and management is critical. Lockout/tagout safety procedures must be observed by all persons present at the industrial plant.
Regular safety inspections are required for all oil and gas refineries. There are two basis types of inspections that need to be done. Routine safety inspections ensure that procedures are being followed on the job site. Inspection of the equipment at regular intervals is also necessary. Corrosion of the equipment, particularly in older, larger plants can be a serious problem if not inspected for. Failure to conduct safety inspections can result in equipment failure. This, in turn, can cause catastrophic results.
Types of Oil and Gas Refinery Accidents
Not all oil and gas refinery accidents are the same. Different refineries may focus on different products and handle different volumes. However, they all have to have certain basic parts that make them dangerous. Refineries require a storage area for the crude oil. They require a distillery and various processing units that use energy to separate the hydrocarbon molecules. They require chemical cooling towers that cool down the heated components after separation. Refineries require a place and procedure to store and transport the petroleum and various chemical components once they have been separated. In addition, Federal Law requires that any polluted soil from chemical spills or releases must be safety stored until it can be taken to an approved toxic clean up site and purified. Thus, refineries require a storage area for polluted waste.
Accidents may occur during any of the steps of the process. Equipment failures are a major cause of oil and gas refinery explosions. Equipment failures can occur at the distillery, the processing units or in the storage facilities. Whether it be a due to corroded pipe or a faulty valve, when the equipment fails the resulting toxic chemical release may expose only a few in the immediate area to danger or it my result in an explosion with widespread effects. Exposure to chemical releases at oil and gas refineries are another type of accident we have successfully handled in our practice.
In addition to the above, you can have every type of auto accident or work injury accident occur on a oil and gas refinery. whatever your accident, call us for a free case evaluation today.
Oil and Gas Refinery Explosions & Widespread Damages
Oil and gas refineries are typically built out away from the main population for more reasons than just the sulfuric odors. While explosions and chemical releases obviously can case serious injury and death to the employees working in and around the industrial plant, they can also cause injury and damages to people situated in the near vicinity of the refinery. The toxic chemicals released can carry for miles in the air, causing symptoms that range from minor eye irritation and sinus issues to permanent internal scarring of the throat and lungs. Permanent optic nerve damage can also result due to exposure to the toxic chemicals released. If you live around a refinery that has reported a toxic release, you should not take any symptoms you experience from a potential chemical exposure injury lightly. Seek immediate medical attention immediately.
In addition to injury to people, the widespread effects can cause damage to property as well. As we saw in the Gulf oil spill disaster, a chemical release into the environment can cause huge losses to businesses that depend upon the earth’s natural resources for their livelihood. Fisherman, farmers and the tourist industry are just some examples of businesses that may sustain lost profits when a toxic tort occurs. Your home may lose resale value if your property is in an area that was subject to a toxic chemical release. If you suspect that you may have been damaged due to a toxic chemical release, call Simmons and Fletcher for a free case evaluation today.