Open Accessibility Menu
Hide
Experienced. Aggressive. Trial Lawyers.

Fertilizer Plant Explosion Lawyers

Fighting for Justice for Workers in Houston, Texas, Louisiana & Nationwide

The ingredients used to create fertilizer can be highly volatile—particularly ammonium nitrate, which has been used as an oxidizing agent in many explosive devices. Because of this risk, there are stringent safety regulations regarding fertilizer plants to lower the risk of plant explosions and fires. Unfortunately, this is not always enough. For example, in April 2013, the West Fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas exploded leaving more than 70 dead, hundreds severely injured and causing widespread property damage to the local community.

Several buildings were damaged, burnt, and even collapsed, with some people still trapped inside.

This story took an unexpected turn three years later. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives revealed shocking news in May 2016: the fertilizer explosion was deliberate. While the U.S. Chemical Safety Board concluded that the blast was ultimately preventable, the news that someone purposefully caused the destruction was a terrible blow to the community. The explosion, which caused a 2.1 magnitude earthquake, also resulted from the company's failure to take preventative safety measures that would have kept fire and explosion from occurring.

If you were injured or someone you love was killed in a fertilizer plant explosion, regardless of whether employed there or merely helping hurt people, you deserve high-quality legal representation. At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we are committed to helping the victims of fertilizer plant explosions and believe firmly in the pursuit of justice. We have been successful in recovering billions of dollars on behalf of our clients.

Fertilizer Information

Fertilizer is essential throughout America as the organic and inorganic matter used to supplement soil with added nutrients. Some statistics even estimate that anywhere up to half of all crops can be attributed to the use of fertilizer.

There is no surprise then that it is big business, especially in an agriculturally-based state like Texas. Traditional farms have long utilized organic fertilizers; however, the industrial revolution kick-started the use of chemically-synthesized inorganic fertilizers. This revolution was not without risks as evidenced by the number of people injured in factories each year. The manufacture of fertilizer must be balanced with strict safety.

Understanding the Manufacturing Process of Fertilizer

Today, synthetic fertilizers are composed of three primary compounds: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Nitrogen is used to help with the synthesis of proteins, nucleic acids, and hormones; phosphorous is used to provide the necessary energy for most metabolic chemical reactions and to help increase plant growth; protein synthesis and several other major plant processes use potassium. Other secondary substances which are put into fertilizer include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, as well as micronutrients, such as iron, chlorine, copper, manganese, and zinc. Since these secondary compounds are more often found in soil naturally, they are used in much lower quantities.

Throughout the nation, manufacturing factories have popped up to help produce these new and improved compound fertilizers.

Although the production process will vary, several steps are used. For example, in regards to the nitrogen fertilizer component, ammonia is produced and, in some cases, will be converted into nitric acid for more ease in handling. Both nitric acid and ammonia are then used to create ammonium nitrate, which serves as a part of the foundation for the fertilizer.

There are similar methods for the production of the phosphorous and potassium components. Once each of these has been made into a usable, solid form, they are stored until ready for the final step. To create the final product, all of these are granulated and blended, with the method of granulation varying based on the plant. In some cases, the components will be placed into a large, rotating drum tilted on its axis. As the components shift within the drum, they pass through a screen. These small pieces are then coated with inert dust to lower the retention of moisture and, finally, dried. Once properly dried, all of the components are "blended" together per the manufacturer's recipe.

Manufacturing Process of Fertilizer

Today, synthetic fertilizers are composed of three main compounds: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Nitrogen is used to help with the synthesis of proteins, nucleic acids, and hormones; phosphorous is used to provide the necessary energy for most metabolic chemical reactions and to help increase plant growth; potassium is used in protein synthesis and several other major plant processes. Other secondary substances which are put into fertilizer include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, as well as micronutrients, such as iron, chlorine, copper, manganese, and zinc. Since these secondary compounds are more often found in soil naturally, they are used in much lower quantities.

Throughout the nation, manufacturing factories have popped up to help produce these new and improved compound fertilizers. Although the production process will vary, there are several steps which are used. For example, in regards to the nitrogen fertilizer component, ammonia is produced and, in some cases, will be converted into nitric acid for more ease in handling. Both nitric acid and ammonia are then used to create ammonium nitrate, which serves as a part of the foundation for the fertilizer.

There are similar methods for the production of the phosphorous and potassium components. Once each of these has been made into a usable, solid form, they are stored until ready for the final step. To create the final product, all of these are granulated and blended, with the method of granulation varying based on the plant. In some cases, the components will be placed into a large, rotating drum tilted on its axis. As the components shift within the drum, they pass through a screen. These small pieces are then coated with inert dust to lower the retention of moisture and, finally, dried. Once properly dried, all of the components are "blended" together per the manufacturer's recipe.

Call Our Fertilizer Plant Accident Lawyers Today: (888) 493-1629

In the previously referenced 2013 incident, the EPA and local safety officials reported that the fertilizer plant presented no documented risk of explosion. Unfortunately, 200+ people were injured, and victims ranged in age from infants to the elderly. An estimated 75 to 100 homes and businesses surrounding the area were destroyed, leaving the terrified residents of West, TX (a small city near Waco, TX) horrified.

If you are looking to discuss your case, or if you would like to schedule your free, confidential consultation, please do not hesitate to contact the firm today. You can also take advantage of our online consultation form.

Case Results

Check Out Our Victories

  • $171Million One of the Largest Confidential Settlements in History Arnold & Itkin worked over the course of several years to represent clients in a case that many other law firms turned down. In the end, we were able to obtain a record-setting confidential settlement of $171 million.
  • $97Million Massive Settlement Secured for Refinery Workers Arnold & Itkin is proud to share that after months of preparation for trial, our firm was able to secure a huge settlement for clients who were injured in a refinery fire. Find out more now.
  • $39.7Million Record Verdict Won for Victim of Industrial Accident Attorneys Kyle Findley and Adam Lewis obtained a record $39.744 million verdict on behalf of a client who was burned in a severe dust fire and explosion at a plywood plant in Corrigan, TX.
  • $18.5Million Second Verdict Won for 4 Victims of Geismar Explosion In our second trial on behalf of victims of the 2013 plant explosion in Geismar, LA, Arnold & Itkin won a massive verdict for 4 workers and their families. The verdict will go toward providing the extensive care they have required in the years since the explosion as well as the care they will need for the rest of their lives. This was the second of 2 massive verdicts Arnold & Itkin won against Williams Companies, Inc.
  • $15.5Million Massive Verdict Won for Geismar Explosion Victims Arnold & Itkin won a landmark verdict against Williams Companies, Inc. and child company Williams Olefins LLC for their part in the 2013 explosion that killed 2 workers and injured over 100 more. Williams Companies tried to blame the incident on their limited liability shell company, but the jury saw through the defense. They awarded 95% of the blame to Williams Companies, Inc. and gave our clients the money they needed for medical care.
  • $13.7Million Massive Settlement Won Only Months After Injury Arnold & Itkin represented a plant worker who was seriously injured in an accident on the job. Plant injuries are often complex, taking years to fully investigate and litigate. Fortunately, our firm’s work was able to secure a multi-million dollar settlement mere months after the injury took place. Now our client’s medical expenses and other needs are taken care of for the rest of his life.
  • $12Million Injured Worker Received Settlement for Burn Injuries Our industrial injury lawyers have recently recovered $12 million on behalf of a plant worker who suffered burns when a safety valve failed at the refinery where he was employed. His settlement will go toward providing him with extensive and long-term medical care. His employer chose to settle his case two weeks before trial was set to begin.
  • $11.7Million Settlement Won for Plant Worker Injured During Turnaround Attorneys Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin successfully recovered $11.75 million on behalf of a man who was injured while working a turnaround at an industrial plant. He was injured because he and his team were not informed of the plant’s dangers, and his family turned to Arnold & Itkin shortly afterward. Our team was able to get him money for his present and future medical expenses less than a year after he was injured.
  • $11.6Million Verdict Secured for a Worker Partially Blinded on the Job Our client was only offered $300,000 by the defendant for his near-total loss of sight in one eye, but the jury only deliberated for less than 2 days before they found the defendant guilty of defective equipment design. They gave our client an award of $11.6 million.
  • $4.97Million Settlement Reached for Orthopaedic Injury Victim Our team worked to represent a client who was severely injured while working at a chemical plant. He was performing construction and maintenance work at the time of the incident. In the end, our firm was successful in settling the case for $4.97 million.
  • $4.8Million Verdict Won for Bereaved Daughter Kurt Arnold recovered $4.8 million for a client whose father was killed after suffering a severe head injury in Port Arthur, Texas. Winning justice for grieving clients is a primary reason we became lawyers, and it's our honor to help clients like this one receive help.
  • $4Million Victim of Plant Explosion Received Millions in Settlement Arnold & Itkin attorneys represented a Mississippi man who was severely injured in a Texas refinery plant explosion. Cases like these require a high level of experience and investigative resources due to the myriad factors involved in a plant explosion. Our attorneys are proud to have helped our client receive a settlement of $4,000,000.
See All Results
“What I feel is that he never considered me as a number, never looked at me as a number. He looked at me as a person, as an individual who needs help, who needs guidance.” - Mildred Solar Cortes