When it comes to the oil and gas industry, the hazards of the job are well known, particular in regards to offshore or refinery work. Unfortunately, the hazards of working on construction sites where gas pipelines are present are often overlooked. A fatal gas pipeline incident in Grand Tower, Illinois on October 23 is changing that.

Working on or near gas pipelines can be extremely dangerous. It is important that anyone working a job that may put them in contact with a pipeline be aware of the hazards. Below, the petrochemical injury lawyers at Kherkher Garcia provide information about the recent fatal incident, along with the hazards of pipeline construction sites, and how to get help after an accident.

Fatal Gas Pipeline Incident Information

On October 23, 2023, two people were killed and two others injured in an industrial accident at the construction site of a natural gas pipeline in Grand Tower, Illinois. The incident occurred at approximately 4:49 PM near Brunkhorst Road and 20th Street.

According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the incident involved a heavy piece of machinery. Two workers, identified as Barbara L. Reid, 47 of Mississippi, and Brandon C. Durand, 43 of Louisiana, were killed. Two other workers suffered injuries and were taken to an area hospital for treatment. Their injuries are non life-threatening.

The Grand Tower Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. The cause is still under investigation, but officials have said that it is a serious matter and that they are working diligently to determine the cause, and how to prevent future incidents.

Safety Concerns Renewed after Fatal Incident

This recent fatal gas pipeline incident is sparking new concerns about safety at pipeline construction sites. In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile accidents at pipeline construction sites, resulting in fatalities and serious injuries.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued a number of safety regulations for pipeline construction sites, but some critics say that the regulations are not strong enough. They argue that PHMSA needs to do more to enforce safety regulations and to hold pipeline companies accountable for accidents.

The accident in Grand Tower is a reminder of the dangers of pipeline construction work. It is important for pipeline companies to take all necessary steps to protect the safety of their workers and the communities in which they operate.

Common Industrial Incidents Affecting Gas Pipelines

Gas pipelines are susceptible to a variety of industrial incidents that can have far-reaching consequences. These incidents can easily affect working in the immediate area, surrounding communities, the environment, and the economy. Understanding the vulnerabilities of these vital conduits is paramount in ensuring their safe operation.

Some of the common types of industrial accidents that occur at pipeline construction sites include:

  • Corrosion: Over time, pipelines can corrode due to exposure to the environment and the corrosive nature of some gases. Corrosion can weaken the pipeline structure, leading to leaks or ruptures.
  • Third-Party Damage: Excavation work, construction, or other activities near gas pipelines can inadvertently damage the pipeline, causing leaks or explosions. This is often a result of improper digging practices and inadequate knowledge of the pipeline’s location.
  • Equipment Failures: The failure of equipment such as valves, regulators, or pressure control devices can result in uncontrolled gas releases or pipeline failures.
  • Operator Error: Human error, such as mistakes in valve operation, inadequate maintenance, or improper response to alarms and emergency situations, can lead to accidents.
  • Welding or Construction Defects: Poor construction practices, substandard welding, or manufacturing defects in the pipeline materials can weaken the pipeline’s integrity.
  • Material and Weld Failures: Over time, materials used in pipelines can weaken, leading to failures, or welds may develop defects, increasing the risk of leaks and ruptures.
  • Internal Corrosion: Some gas pipelines may experience internal corrosion from the transported gas, which can weaken the pipeline’s walls.

To prevent these incidents and ensure the safety of gas pipelines, strict maintenance and monitoring procedures, regular inspections, and comprehensive safety measures are essential. Additionally, regulatory bodies oversee and enforce safety standards to reduce the likelihood of fatal gas pipeline incidents.

Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Industrial Incidents on Pipeline Construction Sites

Reducing the risk of industrial incidents on gas pipeline construction sites is crucial to ensuring the safety of workers, the public, and the environment. Here are some strategies to mitigate these risks:

  • Comprehensive Risk Assessment: Conduct thorough risk assessments before commencing construction. Identify potential hazards, assess their severity, and develop mitigation strategies.
  • Qualified Personnel: Ensure that all personnel involved in construction are well-trained, experienced, and understand safety protocols specific to pipeline work.
  • Safety Training: Provide ongoing safety training to all workers, covering topics such as hazard recognition, emergency response, and the use of safety equipment.
  • Safety Plans: Develop and implement site-specific safety plans that address potential risks and outline safety procedures and protocols. Make these plans easily accessible to all workers.
  • Regular Inspections: Conduct routine inspections to identify and rectify potential issues. This includes equipment inspections, structural assessments, and environmental assessments.
  • Clear Communication: Maintain open and clear communication channels among workers, contractors, and stakeholders. Ensure everyone is aware of safety procedures and emergency protocols.
  • Equipment Maintenance: Regularly inspect and maintain construction equipment to prevent failures and accidents. Replace or repair faulty equipment promptly.
  • Protective Gear: Mandate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including helmets, gloves, safety glasses, and high-visibility clothing. Ensure that PPE is in good condition and worn correctly.
  • Pipeline Integrity: Follow industry best practices in pipeline construction, including proper welding techniques and materials. Inspect welds and joints to ensure their integrity.
  • Environmental Controls: Implement environmental protection measures to prevent soil and water contamination. This may include spill containment systems and erosion control.
  • Quality Assurance: Implement a robust quality assurance program to ensure that construction materials and methods meet safety and regulatory standards.
  • Security Measures: Implement security measures to restrict access to the construction site, which can help prevent theft, vandalism, or sabotage.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensure strict adherence to all federal, state, and local regulations and permit requirements, as well as industry standards such as those set by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Continuous Monitoring: Use monitoring systems to detect any changes in pipeline integrity, pressure, or other critical parameters that could indicate a problem.
  • Crisis Management: Develop a crisis management plan to respond swiftly and effectively to any incidents that may occur, including communication with relevant authorities and the public.
  • Community Engagement: Maintain open lines of communication with nearby communities, informing them about construction activities and potential risks.

Reducing the risk of industrial incidents on gas pipeline construction sites requires a multi-faceted approach, with a strong emphasis on prevention, preparedness, and a safety-first culture.

Can a Petrochemical Injury Lawyer Help After a Pipeline Incident?

If you are injured, or a loved one is killed, in a gas pipeline incident, a petrochemical injury lawyer can provide valuable help. A skilled injury lawyer can provide legal representation to individuals who have been injured or suffered damages as a result of a pipeline incident. Petrochemical injury lawyers specialize in cases related to accidents, injuries, and environmental damage caused by the oil and gas industry. This includes pipelines and pipeline construction sites.

Here’s how a lawyer can help victims after an injurious or fatal gas pipeline incident:

  • Legal Expertise: Petrochemical injury lawyers have expertise in the complex legal issues surrounding pipeline incidents. They can navigate the intricacies of regulations, liability, and environmental impact to build a strong case.
  • Investigation: They can conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the incident and identify responsible parties, whether it is the pipeline operator, maintenance companies, or other entities involved in the operation.
  • Recovery: A petrochemical injury lawyer can help you seek compensation for medical expenses, property damage, loss of income, and other damages resulting from the pipeline incident. They can negotiate with insurance companies and responsible parties to secure a fair settlement.
  • Legal Claims: Petrochemical injury lawyers can file personal injury or wrongful death claims on behalf of individuals who were injured or lost loved ones in the incident. They can also pursue class-action lawsuits for larger-scale incidents affecting communities.
  • Regulatory Compliance: These lawyers are well-versed in federal, state, and local regulations that govern the petrochemical industry, including pipelines. They can ensure that responsible parties are held accountable for any regulatory violations that may have contributed to the incident.
  • Negotiation and Litigation: Petrochemical injury lawyers are skilled negotiators and litigators. They can represent your interests in negotiations with the responsible parties and insurance companies, and they can take your case to court if a fair settlement cannot be reached.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a pipeline incident, it is essential to consult with a qualified petrochemical injury lawyer to understand your rights and options. These attorneys can provide invaluable assistance in pursuing compensation, seeking justice, and holding those responsible for the incident accountable for their actions.

Free Consultation with a Petrochemical Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been injured in a gas pipeline incident, or while working on a pipeline construction site, Kherkher Garcia wants to help. Our petrochemical injury lawyers know well the devastating effects of industrial incidents like the fatal gas pipeline incident in Illinois. We help victims and their families pursue justice and compensation when incidents cause injuries or deaths.

Find out how our injury lawyers can help you. Call us at 713-333-1030, or fill out our website contact form for a free consultation.


Schedule a free Consultation

Kevin Haynes

Kevin Haynes

Firm Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Firm Partner Kevin Haynes. Kevin has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 15 years. He has won $150 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. Kevin is powerful and effective in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been seriously injured at work or on the road.

Learn moreRead more articles