BCH Attorneys Take Lead Roles in TPC Explosion MDL
Bailey Cowan Heckaman attorneys have assumed lead roles in the MDL litigation over a series of disastrous explosions that occurred at the Texas Petroleum Chemical (TPC) plant in Port Neches in November 2019.
In the first MDL hearing on Monday, Orange County District Court Judge Courtney Arkeen appointed all three BCH Partners to leadership roles:
Judge Arkeen’s appointment of our firm’s Partners speaks to their extensive experience in high-stakes personal injury and MDL litigation, as well as their efforts in representing a number of victims affected by the TPC explosions.
As we have discussed on our blog, a series of explosions at TPC’s Port Neches plant last November resulted in the evacuation of more than 60,000 local residents – many of whom have had to deal with extensive damage to their homes and businesses, concerns over toxic exposure associated with the release of butadiene gas and asbestos installed at the facility, and delays in compensating local property owners for damage caused by blast debris. Earlier this year, TPC was cited by OSHA for a number of workplace safety violations and was sued by the Texas AG over environmental violations which contributed to the explosions.
As Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel and Committee Members, BCH Partners will collaboratively lead and coordinate the efforts of all plaintiffs’ attorneys, and will be responsible for helping make strategic decisions on behalf of all plaintiffs in the case, which had been delayed due to COVID-19 and damage to the courthouse caused by Hurricane Laura.
If you have questions regarding the November 2019 TPC Explosions and whether you may have a potential claim, our team is available to discuss your matter during a FREE consultation. Call or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.
TPC Group Cited by OSHA Over Port Neches Explosion
Texas Petroleum Chemical (TPC Group) – a Houston-based petrochemical manufacturer and owner of a Port Neches industrial plant where a series of explosions in November 2019 resulted in the evacuation of over 60,000 residents – has been cited by OSHA for workplace safety violations.
According to the U.S. Labor Department, regulators began investigating TPC after vapor formed at the base of a butadiene finishing tower at its facility in Port Neches ignited and caused a series of explosions and fires that rocked local communities for miles.
As reported by the Beaumont Enterprise, TPC was cited for three willful violations – the most serious citation classification – over failures to develop and implement emergency shutdown procedures, and nine serious violations for various issues including failures to inspect and test process vessel and piping components.
TPC faces $514,692 in fines, and has 15 business days from the date of the citation to comply or request an informal conference with an OSHA regulators.
Local Residents Still Face Asbestos Exposure Concerns, Needed Repairs
OSHA citations may be the most recent enforcement action to hit TPC, but they are not the only legal woes the company faces.
As we’ve reported on our blog, TPC Group was recently sued by the Texas Attorney General over environmental violations that contributed to the Port Neches explosions. The lawsuit claims TPC violated the Texas Clean Air Act and the Texas Water Code with harmful emissions, as well as contamination of the Star Lake Canal and other water sources.
In addition to regulatory actions, TPC may face additional blowback from local residents frustrated with the company’s failures to timely compensate them for losses caused by the explosions, which scattered debris across the local community, causing damage to homes and businesses.
While investigations are still ongoing, local residents and experts are also concerned about the risks of toxic exposure related to the release of pressurized Butadiene gas, as well as blast debris from the facility which investigators have confirmed contained asbestos.
Legal Support For the Local Community
BCH Partner Aaron Heckaman – who himself has deep ties to the community and family affected by the explosions and fires – has been speaking openly to fellow residents since November.
He has also advised homeowners and business owners to be wary of solicitations from TPC insurance representatives pushing insurance waivers that may limit their legal options to file lawsuits over damages they incurred, or seek compensation for illnesses that may arise as a result of toxic exposure.
As a Houston-based law firm experienced in fighting back against corporations that put profits over people and matters of toxic torts, industrial explosions, and asbestos litigation, Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC is available to help local residents affected by the Port Neches November explosions.
Our team is actively reviewing potential claims, and is available to discuss your rights and legal options during a free consultation. Contact us to speak with a lawyer.
Chemical Fire Burns After Texas Chemical Plant Explosion
On November 27th, 2019, more than 60,000 people were placed under evacuation orders in Port Neches, after a series of explosions at the local Texas Petroleum Chemical (TPC) plant. The evacuation order was lifted two days later, but the damage had already been done – and thousands of people have been left to deal with property damage and toxic chemical exposure in the wake of these incidents.
TPC has a long history of violating environmental laws and regulations. For the last two years alone, the company has been classified as a “high priority violator” by the Environmental Protection Agency. Now that their negligence could have serious long-term health consequences for all Port Neches residents, it’s time to hold TPC accountable for their lack of oversight.
Here at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC, our attorneys are committed to helping you secure compensation for your injuries and property damage after the TPC plant explosion. Whether you were exposed to unsafe levels of gas and asbestos or injured in the blast, we will provide the compassionate counsel and relentless trial advocacy that you deserve.
Have you been affected by the Port Neches plant explosion? Contact us immediately at (888) 367-7160 to review your legal options.
Common Industrial Plant Explosion Injuries
Reports have noted that the Port Neches plant explosion could be felt for up to 30 miles away, and within a four-mile radius of the plant, homeowners struggled to find cover amid flying debris and shattered windows. While nobody was directly killed in the explosions, at least three plant workers were severely injured and even hospitalized. As of December 3rd, it’s still unknown how many other people suffered injuries and other damages in the blast.
Here are a few of the most common industrial plant explosion injuries:
Public safety officials have also voiced special concerns about gas exposure in Port Neches, as the TPC facility housed a significant amount of Butadiene. This gas has a gasoline-like odor and can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other catastrophic illnesses with long-term exposure.
Potential Asbestos Exposure Risks
Whenever industrial plants explode, there’s also a strong chance that toxic chemicals will be released into the surrounding community, where they may linger for months or even years. In addition to the release of pressurized Butadiene gas, officials have reported that there was a significant amount of asbestos installed at the Port Neches plant – asbestos that has now blown into surrounding yards and houses.
Asbestos is the only known cause of pleural mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer that targets the delicate mesothelium lining in the lungs and abdominal cavity. It can also cause several incurable, long-term lung diseases, including asbestosis. If you find a chalky white dust coating your property after the TPC plant explosion, you should contact an experienced asbestos exposure lawyer immediately.
Learn more about the symptoms of asbestos exposure here.
Committed to Protecting Our Community
Right now, the insurance claims adjusters for Texas Petroleum Chemical are working hard to get Port Neches residents to sign insurance waivers, effectively eliminating their right to file a lawsuit for injuries. But whether you’ve been exposed to asbestos or hurt by falling debris, you may need substantial compensation to account for your losses. When you sign a waiver for the company’s insurance claims adjusters, it will be much more difficult to seek appropriate recovery when you discover a life-altering illness later on.
Our team here at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC has deep ties to the local community in Port Neches, and one of our founding partners Aaron Heckaman calls this area home. As personal injury attorneys, we believe that companies like TPC should be held fully accountable when they commit negligence on this scale. Because we prepare every single case for trial, we can help you stand up to TPC and pursue the fair compensation you deserve.
We can handle any of the following claims:
- Direct explosion injuries
- Asbestos exposure injuries
- Property damage and financial losses
- Gas exposure injuries
Do you need to speak with an attorney? Call us or contact us online for more information.
Over 35 Injured in Baytown Exxon Plant Explosion, Refinery Fire
Dozens of victims were injured late Wednesday morning when an explosion and fire occurred at the ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant in Baytown, Texas.
Although details about the incident are still being released, Baytown officials have reported that over three dozen workers were injured when an explosion and subsequent fire occurred at the Baytown Olefins Plant, located roughly 25 miles east of Houston.
Here’s what we know:
- The blast occurred shortly after 11:00 am on Wednesday, July 31. Local residents report feeling an explosion large enough to shake windows throughout the surrounding areas.
- Following the blast, a fire broke out in a unit of the facility which processes light hydrocarbons, including polypropylene and propane. A total of 37 victims were transported to an off-site clinic for medical attention, according to the plant manager. No deaths have been reported.
- Exxon and Baytown officials announced that a shelter-in-place was issued for areas west of the plant and south of Spur 330. The shelter-in-place has been lifted.
While Exxon has been quick to state that workers, local residents, and the community are safe, investigations and air-quality monitoring will continue. The blast and subsequent fire are a sobering reminder for locals about the dangers of sharing their communities with large industrial plants and refineries that process, house, and distribute massive quantities of combustible and toxic materials.
Plant & Refinery Accident Lawyers Serving Texas
Bailey Cowan Heckaman hopes all workers, families, and locals affected by the Baytown Olefins Plant explosion and fire are safe. Unfortunately, we know dozens of victims were injured. What isn’t clear at this time is how the incident occurred, and whether those injuries could and should have been prevented.
Wednesday’s fire is the second this year at the ExxonMobil Baytown plant. The previous fire, which occurred in March, resulted in the release of dangerous chemicals into the area for eight days, as well as a lawsuit filed by Harris County against Exxon for violations of the Clean Air Act. Other major explosions and fires have also occurred this year, including a fatal incident at the KMCO chemical plant in Crosby and the three-day fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Co. plant in Deer Park.
Corporations operating industrial facilities and refineries are obligated to ensure the safety of workers, local residents, and the environment – and they can be held accountable when they fail to meet their duty of care.
BCH has experience with cases involving refinery explosions, chemical exposure, and serious injuries, and is actively investigating this matter and reviewing potential cases from victims and families who wish to learn more about their rights and options for legal action.
To speak with an attorney, call or contact us online. Consultations are free and confidential.
Community Safety Concerns Rise After Fatal KMCO Crosby Chemical Plant Explosion, Fire
A major explosion and fire at a chemical plant in Crosby, TX has killed at least one victim and critically injured two others. Residents within a mile of the plant were also ordered to shelter in place.
According to the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, the incident took place at KMCO, a chemical processing and manufacturing facility located at 16503 Ramsey Road in East Harris County shortly before 11:00 am Tuesday, April 2, 2019.
Because the plant contains hazardous chemicals, Harris County temporarily closed a number of public facilities and parks in Crosby, and ordered all residents within a 1-mile radius of the plant to shelter in place. Local school districts, including the Crosby and Sheldon Independent School District, also sheltered students following the blast. Many schools and residents turned off their HVAC systems.
The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office has since contained the fire, and prevented it from spreading to other nearby chemical storage tanks. At approximately 3:15 pm, nearly four and a half hours after the blast, Harris County FMO lifted the shelter in place.
Chemical Plant Fire Sparks Concern About Exposure, Risks
Though investigations are still ongoing, preliminary reports suggest the fire started when a transfer line ignited in a tank containing Isobutylene, a colorless, highly flammable gas. A nearby storage building containing solid materials also caught fire.
Residents near the plant report hearing and feeling the massive explosion, as well as their concerns as dark plumes of smoke continued to billow out of the facility. Though the fire has been contained and the shelter-in-place lifted, there is much to be done to determine what happened, what risks residents may face, and whether any regulatory violations were to blame. Investigations and clean-up efforts by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA will shed light on these questions.
Here’s what we know now:
- Victims – The three victims in this incident, one of whom was pronounced dead at the scene, are believed to be KMCO employees. Contractors near the explosion site reportedly heard a problem had occurred in the control room.
- Residents concerned – Local residents have been expressing concerns about air quality and overall safety in their communities, particularly in light of Harris County’s track record with major plant and industrial facility explosions, a fire at a Deer Park chemical plant just 16 days before, and train fire at the KMCO plant just 4 days after that. The blast, described by some as something like a “sonic boom,” and fears over risks of exposure are making more Texans question whether the companies in their cities are doing enough to protect the public.
- What KMCO does – KMCO is owned by ORG Chemical Holdings, one of the world’s largest chemical corporations. With plants in Crosby and Port Arthur, KMCO employs nearly 200 full-time employees, and produces more than 900 million pounds of manufacturing products per year, including specialty chemicals for products such as brake fluid and antifreeze.
- KMCO’s record of violations – KMCO has a history of violating various environmental regulations. In 2016, KMCO was criminally convicted on 2 counts of violating the federal Clean Air Act, and was ordered to pay over $3 million in criminal fines. It’s been in violation of the Clean Water Act for 7 of the past 12 years and since 1995, has been fined nearly a dozen times by the TX Commission on Environmental Quality for violations that include failures to comply with emissions rate standards, failure to conduct stack tests, and discharging hazardous waste. It also has a number of OSHA violations, according to the Houston Chronicle.
A Tragic Loss. A Powerful Reminder.
Tuesday’s horrific explosion and fire struck fear in numerous Crosby residents and other Texans who live in and near communities with major chemical and industrial facilities. It was also a terrible tragedy for the victims and families involved – to whom our team at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC sends our deepest condolences.
Catastrophes like these are a sobering reminder of why there are regulations in place – whether they concern the storage, handling, and transportation of hazardous materials, or the responsibilities of corporations to take appropriate steps to protect workers and local communities. Because facilities like the KMCO plant pose a high potential for harm, they must be held to high standards. When they fail to meet those standards, they need to be held accountable.
As the investigation unfolds, our team at BCH will continue to follow updates and official reports. Our firm has extensive experience with cases involving refinery explosions, industrial accidents, chemical exposure, and serious injuries and wrongful death. We’re available to help anyone with questions.
If you would like to speak with a member of our legal team, call or contact us online.
ATF Says Deadly Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Was Intentional
A new report from the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives shows that the deadly 2013 Texas fertilizer plant explosion was intentional. The investigation labeled the explosion that killed 15 people and injured more than 200 others as a “criminal act.”
The explosion rocked a community of 2,800 people just north of Waco. As a result, 500 homes were turned into rubble from the force that was compared to a magnitude 2.1 earthquake. The explosion left a 93-foot-wide crater in the site where the plant stood. The plant also contained chemicals such as ammonium nitrate.
Currently, no arrests have been made in connection with the explosion, but as part of their investigation, the ATF has conducted over 400 interviews. Furthermore, a $50,000 reward is being offered to help find anybody who may have been involved with the crime.
Of the individuals killed during the fire following the explosion were two volunteers and 10 first responders. This incident occurred in the same week as the Boston Marathon bombing. The town has been slowly rebuilding since the blast occurred.
The United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board claimed that the explosion was one of the most destructive incidents it had ever investigated. Litigation is currently ongoing. Some of the claims initially named the fertilizer company as the defendant and settled out of court for undisclosed amounts. However, some other residents and businesses still have pending cases with one trial slated to begin next week.
This was a tragedy that rocked Texas and new revelations regarding the cause of the blast can open up a number of options for some of the people who were injured and the families of those who were killed.