Houston Oil Refinery Fire Results in Toxic Gas Cloud

Written by greg on March 28, 2019


A huge fire at a Houston refinery took several days to extinguish. The accident is considered the worst industrial disaster in Houston since 2005. The incident happened at the Intercontinental Terminal Company (ITC) in Deer Park. The storage facility burst into flames and took days to be put out. Luckily, no injuries were reported as a result of the fire. However, there is growing concern over the potentially deadly cloud of gas that has been released from the plant.

A containment wall in the plant collapsed sparking additional fires in several storage tanks and in a nearby drainage ditch. Alerts were issued in Deer Park and nearby areas for potential benzene in the air. Some residents were forced to evacuate their homes. A portion of the Houston Ship Channel had to be closed by the U.S. Coast Guard due to contaminants in the air and water in the channel. The channel is a major waterway for traffic but is not used for drinking water.

Dangers of Exposure to Benzene

About 1,000 residents in Deer Park and local suburbs were treated for symptoms of exposure to benzene. So many people were hurt that a pop-up clinic was set up to treat the victims. Some of the victims required further medical treatment and were transported to area hospitals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exposure to benzene may have both short and long term effects. Short term effects often include difficulty breathing, respiratory problems, reddening or blistering of the skin, and eye irritations. Long term effects may include damage to the immune system, increased risk of cancer and poisoning, among others. The symptoms of exposure to benzene in the air include dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, tremors, confusion, and irregular heartbeat. Those who have continued exposure could become unconscious and may die if the benzene levels are high enough.

What to do After Exposure to Benzene

The treatment for benzene exposure is to immediately move out of the area and breathe fresh air. Remove contaminated clothing and take a shower with soap and warm water to completely remove any potential residue. If your eyes are irritated, you should rinse them with water for 15 minutes. Place contaminated clothing in a plastic bag and keep it sealed. Take care of children by removing their clothing and giving them a complete bath. Seek medical care for young children who are unable to tell you about any symptoms they have.

If you were sickened from exposure to benzene, you may be able to take legal action against the negligent party. Keep records from your doctor visits and treatments and make notes of when, where, and how long you were exposed to the chemical. Make note of your symptoms and treatments. Call an experienced personal injury attorney in Houston, TX.

Your lawyer will review the details of your injuries to determine whether there is sufficient need to file a case. Contact our legal team at Baumgartner Law Firm to discuss the details of your injury today. Call (281) 587-1111!

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