Authorities report seven people were injured, four of whom suffered critical injuries in an explosion at the Sunoco Logistics terminal in Nederland, Texas.
The fire occurred the night of Friday August 12, 2016. Three of the injured people were life-flighted to area burn centers and the other four were taken by ambulance to area hospitals. They are employed by L-Con, Inc., and were contracted to do work for Sunoco.
With a 24-million barrel storage capacity, the Sunoco plant in Nederland is used to store crude oil and other natural gases. It is the southern terminus of the Keystone pipeline, which delivers several hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil to the refinery.
Sunoco and L-Con, Inc are investigating the cause of the fire.
This is not the first explosion at a Sunoco plant to occur in recent years. Investigators reported the cause of a May 2009 explosion and fire at the New Castle, Delaware, refinery was caused by corroded pipes leaking gas. The gas was then ignited by high temperatures from nearby equipment. The corrosion had gone undetected for years.
While the cause of the Nederland plant's explosion and fire is being investigated, the circumstances are very similar to a 2011 explosion and fire that occurred at the Enterprise Products facility in Mont Belvieu, Texas.
A workover crew had been assigned to clean and repair a wellhead 6 weeks before the incident. They'd purged the line of hydrocarbons but did not know the underground header was still energized. The above-ground headers remained online and energized with hydrocarbons as well. The crew went to install metal blinds between the flanges using a "Pop-It" tool, the pipe overstressed, fractured, and released pressurized hydrocarbons.
We were hired by 43 workers who were injured escaping the explosion and fire to investigate the incident. Our investigation uncovered that not only was there a safer way to do the job, Enterprise had known about this safer option since at least 2009, and despite other injuries and incidents, had chosen to keep using the unsafe method because it was cheaper and faster. Find out more about how we helped these workers hold Enterprise accountable for failing to keep them safe.
In addition to helping the 43 workers injured in the Enterprise explosion, our firm has extensive experience helping refinery workers investigate injuries and incidents, including:
- Workers injured at the ExxonMobil Plant in Beaumont after a 2013 fire was caused by workers using a welding torch near hydrocarbons.
- Workers injured at the LyondellBasell refinery in 2010 when a huge fire broke out.
- Workers injured when the world's largest crane, owned by Deep South Crane and Rigging Company came crashing down at LyondellBasell in 2008.
What Workers Need to Know After Being Injured in A Refinery Explosion
You probably have lots of questions and concerns about what happens now. You have to focus on recovering and may not be able to work for a while. You're concerned about paying your bills, paying for your medical treatment, and being able to provide for your family. That's where experienced work injury attorneys come in. An experienced attorney will be able to help you learn your legal rights, determine your best course of action, and help you get all of your questions answered.
There are three things you need to know right away to protect your case and your future:
- Do not sign any paperwork or give a recorded statement. You will probably be receiving phone calls and maybe even visits from company representatives. Do not sign any paperwork or give a recorded statement. These representatives say they're on your side, but they're not. Their job is to protect the company, not you. You could accidentally sign away your legal right to filing a lawsuit or pursuing an injury claim.
- Keep all of your paperwork. Everything from pay stubs, work contracts, letters from the company, medical records, bills, and pharmacy receipts. You will need all of this information to help your attorneys build your case.
- Talk to an attorney before it's too late. A work injury lawyer will help you protect your legal rights and the value of your case. They will answer all of your questions and help you make sure all the evidence is preserved and the companies don't hide or destroy anything that will help you prove your case. They will hire qualified experts to conduct an independent investigation into the explosion right away. Right now, the companies are "investigating" the accident. In our experience, that means they will be working to find out how to prove they are not responsible for the explosion. Not the truth.
You need experienced attorneys working for you. Working to help find out what really happened, who is responsible, and why you deserve to be fairly compensated for your injuries. Don't wait until it's too late - until evidence is destroyed or you've accidentally signed away your legal rights - to talk to lawyers about your case. Time is not on your side.
What our historic verdict taught us about OCIP clauses in work injury cases - and how it affects you
This spring, we obtained a $17,720,000 verdict on behalf of the family of an ironworker who drowned building Baylor's new football stadium. We faced seven companies who all wanted to avoid taking responsibility for our client's death. We investigated the incident and took over 50 depositions in the case. What we found out was that one of the companies had hidden safety documents that would have prevented our client's death but would have made the job slower. They were on a tight deadline so they hid this information from the other companies and the workers.
The company put speed over safety. They also tried to say the OCIP - an owner-controlled insurance program - they'd joined meant they could avoid liability for the ironworker's death. We fought the OCIP before trial and defeated it, as none of the companies involved in the OCIP provided any evidence aside from contract documents to support their arguments.
These OCIP programs are very common in large industrial and construction worksites where multiple companies are working together. What they mean for workers is that if an OCIP policy does exist, the companies will try to use it to avoid having to be held accountable for injuring you. And most lawyers will see the OCIP and not want to take your case. But OCIP policies aren't guarantees that the companies won't have to pay. As we know from our Baylor stadium lawsuit and other cases, OCIP policies aren't a fail-safe. Companies use them to scare you away from filing lawsuits and protecting your legal rights.
One of the first things we do in work injury cases is to find out if there is an OCIP policy in place. Even if there is one, it doesn't mean your case is ruined. We investigate it and fight it. When you talk to lawyers about your case, you need to find out if they've ever had an OCIP issue on a case and if they've successfully defeated it. You want to hire an attorney with experience on these issues so that you don't get stuck halfway through your case with someone who doesn't know what they're doing.
To talk to our attorneys right now about your case and get answers to all of your questions, call us at 877-724-7800 or fill out a contact form.