ExxonMobil Refinery Explosions
A Timeline Compiled by Houston Industrial Accident Lawyers
ExxonMobil has frequently allowed its workers and surrounding communities to suffer from multiple refinery explosions. Their safety record and reputation has taken a public beating in the last few years, as multiple separate events result in terrible injuries. This page was created to keep track of explosions and subsequent investigations, which can take several months to a year. This page was also created to help workers find an attorney who has experience investigating refinery explosions, who represents injured workers who are harmed due to negligence.
Read below to learn more about ExxonMobil's history of safety mismanagement.
Massive Explosion at ExxonMobil Refinery in Torrance
On Wednesday, February 18, 2015, a massive explosion rocked the Torrance area when the ExxonMobil refinery exploded—sending huge flames into the area. The accident occurred at approximately 8:50 a.m. and injured four workers. Local residents were starkly affected by the blast as well, with students from more than a dozen local schools being forced to stay indoors as an ash-like substance fell from the sky. According to seismologists, the blast was the equivalent of a 1.5 magnitude earthquake.
The blast originated in the refinery’s electrostatic precipitators where a unit had been shut down for maintenance and the turnaround process. An investigation into the explosion found "multiple deficiencies" in safety management led to the event. Specifically, management failed to update poor procedures and identify hazardous conditions. In the end, ExxonMobil was given 19 citations and fined $556,000. Additionally, motorists paid $2.4 billion in increased gas prices for six months. All told, it was the costliest refinery explosion in California in 16 years.
Fire at ExxonMobil Refinery in Beaumont, Texas
Employees of ExxonMobil have suffered some serious setbacks in the year 2013. In April 2013, a fire struck a Beaumont, TX refinery when the process unit of the plant was shut down for maintenance. Following the incident, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigated the plant; since there were no recordable levels of emissions, it was classified as a "flash fire." It is believed that the fire sparked when hydrocarbons were released and ignited during repairs to a heat exchanger.
An estimated 12 of the refinery's employees were seriously injured with critical burns, as well as fractured with broken bones. Of the injured, seven were taken to Baptist Hospital where three were later transferred to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston for more thorough burn treatments; the five other workers were transported to Christus Hospital-St. Elizabeth. One of the contract workers has since passed away from injuries sustained in the fire. The fire happened at an ExxonMobil refinery that is part of a 2,400-acre complex, which also includes a chemical and lube plant. Per reports, this refinery in particular processed more than 365,000 barrels of crude oil daily and employed more than 2,000 Southeast Texas residents.
To learn more about the fire, please read any of the following blogs:
- ExxonMobil Refinery Fire Injures 12 Workers
- Update: ExxonMobil Refinery Fire Injures 12
- UPDATE: Investigation Continues at Beaumont Refinery After Fire
- Beaumont, Texas: ExxonMobil Refinery Fire Update
- ExxonMobil Workers Threaten Strike Over Refinery Safety
Pipeline Rupture & Oil Spill in Mayflower, Arkansas
On March 29, 2013, a 65-year-old pipeline ruptured, releasing an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil in Mayflower, Arkansas—although some recent lawsuits are stating it could be as many as 19,000 barrels. Since then, residents of the small city have been experiencing a "toxic soup." According to a representative of the Texas chapter of the Sierra Club, there were toxic hydrocarbons "at more than 88,000 parts per billion." Already, employees are seeking compensation for the damages suffered in the crude oil spill. Several residents have already filed class action lawsuits, pointing to the damaged yards, tainted water supply, increase in carbon monoxide omissions, and more. Many Mayflower residents evacuated their homes in the aftermath due to the health risks posed by fumes and some are already claiming it is the "worst spill in Arkansas history."
ExxonMobil Employees Create Agreement After Strike Notice
In the aftermath of these serious safety hazards, employees of ExxonMobil issued a 60-day notice stating their intention to strike. The notice came from a local United Steelworkers chapter who is concerned about a Baytown refinery's safety; the union has issued requests for ExxonMobil to update the safety procedures at the facilities and make greater education attempts. Although the oil giant believes that it has high standards in place for the safety of its workers, there are many more steps that can be taken to improve safety on facility sites nationwide.
Per union spokesperson Richard Landry:
"ExxonMobil likes to think it has a better health and safety culture than other oil companies, but their process safety record shows they have room for improvement. Our proposal increases employee involvement, provides for process safety training and review, and delivers a solution to worker fatigue that ExxonMobil and the industry's trade organization designed."
The threat of strike led to a tentative agreement between the workers and the Baytown refinery. Now it features the contact safety language that the union leaders were demanding. This language is not new to the company—other refineries, including the Torrance site, have contracts with the exact same language. The Baytown refinery will now meet the same standards as other ExxonMobil sites.
Arnold & Itkin: High-Quality Industrial Injury Lawyers
At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we know just how difficult it can be work in an industrial workplace. It is important work, but that does not always mean it is safe work. From toxic oil spills, to fires, to plant explosions, the dangers that industrial workers face are immense. For this reason, we are proud to stand up for the rights of injured employees.
To see for yourself what clients have to say about our firm, just watch the following video:
Throughout our legal careers, our personal injury attorneys have been proud to help countless clients to get their lives back on track following a catastrophic industrial accident. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries and are looking for someone to fight for you, we encourage you to reach out and contact our firm. We truly care about our clients, and we are known for our one-on-one attention. We will do everything we can to keep you updated, informed, and comfortable with the direction of your case. To learn how we protect the rights of our clients, contact us today.
To learn more about the types of cases we handle, please click on the below links:
- Plant & Refinery Accidents
- Plant & Refinery Explosions
- Plant & Refinery Fires
- Aging Plant Equipment
- Safety Policies & Procedures
Arnold & Itkin LLP's Recent Victories
At our firm, we have a reputation for success. In fact, we have recovered billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. This has been accomplished through the hard work of our lawyers, both in and out of the courtroom. We do not just accept the answer "no" and fight tirelessly for the success of our clients. Throughout the years, we have been involved in several high-profile complex cases. For example, we represented victims of the BP Texas City disaster, as well as 27 crewmembers injured in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Some other examples of our victories include the following:
- $117 Million: Arnold & Itkin attorneys represented a young woman who suffered catastrophic injuries in an ambulance accident. Seven-months pregnant, the plaintiff had called for an ambulance to take her to a local hospital; during the ride, the driver—who had a history of poor vision and bad driving—dropped his RSI device and completely took his eyes off the road when he reached down to pick it up. The ambulance did not reduce speed and drove into the back of a sugar cane truck. The woman had her spine severed at T4 in the accident and suffered serious brain injuries; her daughter was prematurely delivered. By proving fault on behalf of the ambulance driver, we successfully obtained a $117 million verdict—the largest single-event, personal injury verdict in Louisiana history.
- $76.6 Million: Arnold & Itkin represented a young man who developed abnormal breast tissue (gynecomastia) as a result of taking Risperdal. The manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, denied responsibility for our client’s harm. They even attempted to use our client’s mental condition against him in court. However, our cross examination uncovered documents that showed a link between Risperdal usage and gynecomastia—documents hidden from federal authorities by Johnson & Johnson. Our presentation of the case led to a $76.6 million verdict. Our award is the largest Risperdal verdict to date—20 times larger than the previous 4 verdicts combined.
- $14 Million: Our firm represented a Jones Act seaman who had sustained a serious head injury while working aboard the Hercules 15 inland barge, which was located on Lake Washington in Louisiana. During operations, employees welded a three-foot pipe to the derrick and then forgot about it. When drilling began, it became lose and hit the seaman in the head. Our attorneys took on the case and settled it for $14 million on the eve of the trial.
- $10.9 Million: Attorneys Jason Itkin and Kurt Arnold represented a Louisiana family who'd suffered the loss of their mother and the paralysis of a five-year-old daughter during a tragic grade crossing. We fought to prove that Union Pacific should have known about the unique safety hazard at the crossing and that they should have installed active warning devices. After presenting the danger of the crossing, as well as the previous accidents that had occurred there, the jury agreed and decided that Union Pacific should have been aware of the hazard; they awarded a $10.9 million jury verdict.
- $9.6 Million: Arnold & Itkin represented an industrial worker who lost most of the sight in one of his eyes after a catastrophic accident at the workplace. We filed suit, and, after deliberating for a day and a half, the jury found that the defendant was liable for designing a faulty piece of equipment. Although the pretrial settlement offer was only $300,000, the jury awarded a $9.6 million verdict.
See more of our firm's victories by visiting our case results today!