Texas Plant Explosion a Deadly Reminder of Dangers Workers & Area Residents Face

The Callahan Law Firm extends its deepest sympathy to all suffering from the West, Texas plant explosion.

A deadly Texas plant explosion devastating the town of West killed at least 14 people, many of them volunteer firefighters, injured about 200 others, and destroyed homes within a four-to-five block radius of the 10-acre West Fertilizer Co. The Dallas Morning News reports that damage from the explosion and shockwave extended to homes and other buildings in a 37-block area.

As we join residents of the small Central Texas town in mourning their losses and rebuilding their lives, state and federal investigators sort through rubble, trying to determine what caused the April 17th fertilizer plant explosion.

According to a Reuters report, authorities are questioning West Fertilizer Co.’s handling and reporting of hazardous chemicals. Based on the amount of ammonium nitrate stored, the plant should have received safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but the federal agency was reportedly unaware of the chemicals stored there. Whether additional oversight could have prevented the tragic event or not remains unknown, but one thing we do know – the plant explosion is a deadly reminder of the dangers industry workers, emergency responders and those residing near industrial plants face.

Texas has certainly seen its share of such deadly disasters. The worst industrial accident in U.S. history also occurred in the month of April in Texas, and also involved ammonium nitrate. The Texas City Disaster began April 16, 1947 when a fire aboard a ship carrying the explosive chemical docked at the port in Texas City set off a chain-reaction of fires and explosions that killed about 600 people, injured thousands, and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.

Also among the most deadly U.S. industrial accidents was the Phillips Disaster of 1989 in Pasadena, Texas. The fires and explosions at the plant producing high-density polyethylene killed 23 workers and injured 314.

And, the BP Texas City refinery explosion on March 23, 2005 killed 15 workers and injured at least 170 others.  An investigation into the incident found that budget cuts had caused a deterioration of safety. BP paid hundreds of lawsuit settlements.

After major incidents such as these deadly plant explosions, state and federal agencies implement additional safety measures to help prevent future accidents, but sadly they do still occur.  Sometimes, such as in the case of the Phillips disaster, investigations find that the companies had previously known about but largely ignored unsafe conditions. Although millions and even billions of dollars in penalties and lawsuits does not bring back lives lost, money paid to survivors helps them rebuild their lives and may persuade other companies to ensure any and all safety measures possible are taken.

If you were injured or suffered the loss of a family member in a Texas plant explosion or fire and want to take legal action, contact an experienced attorney.  For tips on how to live through an explosion, click here.