Plant & Refinery Accidents

Plant Explosion Survivors Share Their Story

When it comes to plant explosions, only one voice matters: the voice of the workers who lived through it. Our short documentary puts the focus directly on the men and women who lived through a tragic plant explosion and what happened to them in the wake of that accident.

Video Transcript

"It Felt Like a Train Just Started Coming"

"It was insane. It was just chaos. You just hear guys screaming, material dropping...and then on top of that, you hear the loud explosion that's already popping your ears. It was terrible."


"I woke up to go to work like a normal day. We get there, and we were not told that they were running some kind of chemicals through our line."

"All of a sudden, it felt like a train just started coming. You felt the ground shake, and I heard just this loud noise." 

[Spanish] "The ground began to move and shake, and all the workers there, we looked at each other wondering what was happening. And then at some point, it came over the radio for us all to run."

"And by the time we turned around, BOOM!"

"It's like a car gear that's stuck or something. It's echoing throughout the entire plant, and...Bang. Bang. Bang. All of a sudden, just gigantic flames just start rising from that side, and they start covering the entire sky. Before we know it, the entire sky is red, and we're running for our lives off the structure. We dropped everything in our hands."

"At that point, we saw a lot of people running. We knew it was really bad. We noticed this guy, a gentleman laying on the ground, and I thought he may have been deceased. And he said, 'Please don't leave me, man,' and I paused for a minute, and he said 'If I don't make it, let my wife and my kids know that I love them.'"

"I grabbed the radio and I holler, 'Mayday! Mayday! Fire! Fire! Evacuate! Evacuate!'"

"There was one guy with a broken leg, I put him in a wheelbarrow that I had in the area and tooled him out of there. It was just chaotic, it was just...something I hope I never have to experience again."

"I'm a single father of three daughters. So, I was looking at it like, at any second, any given second, I could be taken away. And then what are they left with? I was very terrified."

"People got in a rush, from what I understand. Disregarding rules."

"An operator had opened up a valve, and he over-pressured it, and the PSV valve blew up. And the ignition source to that was the welder that was on the third floor, and that's when it ignited. I mean, but when it ignited, it went up. You heard it. And I mean, the whole unit went up, like, fast."

"When the explosion happened, that guy was still there hanging. Getting burned. And that's one of the images that I can't get out of my head: watching that man up there burning. We couldn't do nothing for him. Nobody could have done nothing for him because he was right under the fire."

[Spanish] "I couldn't unhook myself. I needed to remove my tools and protective equipment. All of that equipment was plastic and already melted. There was a lot of damage done. I had no idea what had happened."

[Spanish] "What I was most afraid of was that I would arrive at the hospital, and they would tell me my husband was dead."

The Aftermath

"The next couple of days, when people started going back to work, then they were acting like, 'Now we want to enforce safety,' instead of doing it correctly the first time."

"The company I work for, they didn't care. They wanted us back to work the next day. I tried. I went back one day, and I couldn't. It was hard for me to breathe, had so much anxiety. Didn't even want to be near a plant, but they told us if we didn't come back, we lost our job."

"I tried to go get my toolbox from there, and I couldn't even handle doing that. Got shaky, sweaty. And that's my career."

"Some things like gas, fires, things like that, I get little uneasy. Or if I would pass by, like, a refinery or something like that, and start having little flashbacks, and I just hated it. I didn't want to be around there, you know. And the smell."

"Week or two later, we had got laid off, and I started forgetting stuff and ears were ringing and back hurting."

"Found out I have some discs that need to be replaced in my L4 and L5, lower back. Now it's surgery and lifelong pain. May never be able to do the certain things that I used to do."

"My neck was pretty torn up, that I had to have surgery and have a plate put in my neck to fix it. I'm still hurting right now as we speak."

"It's been a long, hard road. I've actually had to have back surgery and I'm still shell-shocked at a lot of things that go on. If I'm somewhere and I hear a dumpster dumping and I don't know what it is, it startles me. So I mean, it's caused some damage."

"You know, I'm still shaky, I'm still having these headaches, and I'm still hurting pretty bad, especially when I started having nightmares. And I said, 'You know what, I'm going to need to see professional help.'"

Looking for Answers

"I came upon Arnold & Itkin. I was doing a lot of research trying to find the best attorneys, that had the most wins and that really took care of their people, you know. Someone who has the best reviews, and Arnold & Itkin was the first one to come up. Their reviews actually stood up against everything. No matter where you look, they have great positive reviews."

"'Well, hey, you know what, who is this firm? Tell me about them.' And he told me, 'Well, don't take my word for it. Look at them on the internet.' And I went through reading some stuff on the internet, what they have done, for what they have been awarded for, and I said, 'These are the people that I want to go with.'"

"When I met the attorneys at Arnold & Itkin for the first time, it was real comfortable. They are very welcoming, so it kind of made the situation less stressful, I would say."

"When I walked through the door, they knew me, first and last name, you know. Out of all the people that they could know, they knew me first and last name. 'Hey, how are your kids?' You know, 'How are you doing with this.' And you know, it was heartwarming because they actually connected. They took that time to actually know you. You know, versus at the job, it was still people that didn't even know my name, but here I am at a law firm, and they know me, first and last name. So, with family and everything I had going on, I mean, they're a really great firm."

"When I first came in to Arnold & Itkin, they treated me like family. And I just felt really at home right away from the start, you know, I feel like I could trust them. I felt comfortable, and that's something that I really don't feel often, you know, so that that made an impact on me."

"After dealing with these guys, I don't think—it'd be kind of hard to match. They're really there when you need them. Any questions you need answered, they'd answer them."

"Arnold & Itkin, it's like having my own personal team with me. Another team is trying to score, trying to do whatever they can to win, but with Arnold & Itkin behind me, I have the power, the knowledge, and knowing that we're going to get our job done at whatever cost it is. They're here to help me. They're my backup. They would be your backup."

"I believe the plant failed us. We had safety meetings every day. Every day, they had a safety meetings every single morning before the shift, but I believe the plant failed us because they say every accident is preventable. That was preventable, what happened to us. They put money over our lives."

"If I would have let the company handle it, then I may have seen one doctor, I may have talked to one psychiatrist, and then that would have been it. There's no comparison to Arnold & Itkin. I had no idea if I even had a case, or if there was even anything remotely possible, but they took care of everything."

"These guys, Arnold & Itkin, they mean the world to me. At the time of need, these guys were there for me. And to really have somebody in your corner, when you're in dire need, not really knowing what to do—to really have somebody in your corner—it means the world to you."

"We Have That Opportunity Again to Have That Fresh Start"

"Now, that the case is settled, I feel like, for me and my daughters, most of the things that I was worried about, is no longer there. I mean, they made sure that we were taken care of, and I got to give it to them. They fought every step of the way, nails and teeth and everything. They fought really hard for the future, and I feel like our future is just—we have that opportunity again to have that fresh start."

"By myself, I would have never been able to make it this far, you know? It's really astounding how intelligent and professional they are. How much they can do, you know, because they've done a lot and I can never thank them enough for that."

"I know for a fact so many other people that used different lawyers. And they are nowhere close to getting the medical attention that they need, getting the financials that they need. They are out there right now like a person on welfare. And that's the best way for me to put it. If it wasn't too late, I would love to tell them to switch teams and get on the winning team with Arnold & Itkin."

"Go with them. Go with them, go with them, go with them. I would definitely recommend Arnold & Itkin to anyone. Anyone that's looking for a personal injury attorney, to go with Arnold & Itkin because they are there for you. They have your back. They will go above and beyond. And you just might be surprised, at the end, of what they're capable of. I feel that my future is a lot more secure. I'll be able to make sure my kids are okay. I'll be able to make sure my fiancé and I are okay."

"Our results from Arnold & Itkin was more than we ever dreamed. They put us in a position to where my husband doesn't have to worry so much, because he does still have injuries. He does still have issues that he's probably going to have the rest of his life. And his biggest fear was not being able to take care of his family. Arnold & Itkin made sure that he's able to take care of his family now."

"Arnold & Itkin—they retired me. And I'm going to move back home and enjoy the rest of my life."

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