37 workers were injured at the Exxon Mobil plant in Baytown, east of Houston. The employees were hurt by an explosion and fire at the plant. The accident happened at the facility that processes light hydrocarbons such as propane and propylene that are used in the plastics industry. According to the plant manager, all employees were accounted for and none of the injuries was life-threatening. Victims were transported to local medical facilities for treatment of their burns. The explosion caused great concern in the area due to the large amount of smoke that came from the fire.
Baytown issued a shelter for local residents after the incident, which remained in place for at least several hours. The plant said they conducted air quality monitoring of the plant and surrounding area and did not find any health dangers. Inhalation of toxic chemicals is always a concern following an explosion and fire of hazardous materials.
Past Violations Alleged
This is not the first fire at the plant this year. A fire occurred at the refinery in March that allegedly emitted toxic pollutants into the air for eight days. The company is facing a lawsuit from the county, claiming that Exxon Mobil violated the Federal Clean Air Act. Also, in March, a fire occurred at a similar plant owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company. In that incident, the fire burned for days and toxins were emitted into the nearby waterway. That company is facing charges in Harris County for allegedly polluting the water.
Exxon Mobil was previously found to have violated the Clean Air Act. They promised to retrofit the facility with anti-pollution technology as part of a 2017 settlement with the U.S. government. They also agreed to pay $2.5 million in federal fines. The plant has large quantities of hazardous materials on site including 68 tons of ethylene and other chemicals such as ammonia, benzene, and propylene.
Injuries from Chemical Plant Explosions and Fires
There are several concerns regarding injuries from chemical plant explosions and fires. Employees could be burned in the fire or they could experience chemical burns. Luckily, in this case, there were no fatalities. In addition to burns, people can be exposed to dangerous toxins in the air. Exposure is a concern for those who live nearby when large plumes of smoke are emitted from the fire. Toxins can present an immediate danger to the lungs, and they can also cause long-term effects. They can damage plants and animals in the surrounding areas. In addition, toxins can get into the water supply, which can endanger both humans and animals.
The county is taking action to try to minimize the damages caused by petrochemical fires. They are requesting better air monitoring, inspections, and analysis. They also propose improvements in communication between chemical companies and the responding agencies. It is not clear if any people in the nearby homes suffered any injuries due to inhalation of chemicals in this incident.
If you or a loved one was injured by a plant explosion you may be entitled to compensation. You may be owed money for your damages such as the costs of your medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
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