On June 25, 2024, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) released its final report on the catastrophic explosion at the BP-Husky Toledo Refinery in Oregon, Ohio, which occurred on September 20, 2022. This tragic incident claimed the lives of two BP employees and resulted in nearly $600 million in property damage.

This report serves as a stark reminder of the critical need for stringent safety measures and proactive risk management in high-risk industries to protect workers and prevent such tragedies from recurring.

At Kherkher Garcia, our oil and gas injury attorneys have seen firsthand how devastating refinery incidents can be. Our practice is dedicated to helping injury victims and their families recover and see justice served. Below, we explore the CSB’s final report and provide insight into what victims can do to protect their rights in the aftermath of such tragic incidents.

BP-Husky Refinery Explosion Details

The CSB released its final report on the fatal naphtha release and fire at the BP-Husky Toledo Refinery in Ohio on September 20, 2022, which killed two BP employees. The incident, involving the release of over 23,000 pounds of naphtha, caused $597 million in damages and was the deadliest at a BP refinery since 2005.

The CSB identified a series of failures, including an overwhelming “alarm flood” with over 3,700 alarms in 12 hours, which hindered the operators’ responses. The refinery also failed to implement necessary shutdown procedures in time. The incident began with a process upset in the naphtha hydrotreater unit, leading to an overflow in a pressurized vessel that typically held only vapor, resulting in the release of naphtha when employees tried to drain it, creating a vapor cloud that ignited.

The CSB highlighted critical safety issues, including:

  • Inadequate liquid overflow prevention
  • Poor management of abnormal situations
  • Excessive alarms
  • Failure to implement shutdown

A similar incident occurred in 2019, indicating a failure to learn from past events. The CSB issued seven safety recommendations to the refinery’s current owner, the Ohio Refining Company LLC, the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the International Society of Automation (ISA). These include revising safety protocols, improving alarm management, and ensuring employees have the authority to stop unsafe work. The CSB’s recommendations aim to address safety gaps to prevent future incidents.

What is Naphtha and Why is it Dangerous?

Naphtha is a highly flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture derived from the distillation of petroleum or coal tar. It is a key intermediate product used in the petrochemical industry, primarily as a feedstock for producing high-octane gasoline, solvents, and as a raw material for the production of ethylene and other chemicals. Naphtha can be broadly categorized into two types: light naphtha and heavy naphtha, based on its boiling point range.

Why Naphtha is Dangerous

Naphtha is dangerous largely due to its flammability and potential to contaminate soil and water. Consider the following risks:

  • Flammability: Naphtha is extremely flammable and can form explosive mixtures with air. Even a small spark or static discharge can ignite naphtha vapors, leading to fires or explosions.
  • Vapor Hazard: Naphtha readily evaporates at room temperature, creating potentially hazardous vapors. These vapors can accumulate in confined spaces, posing a significant risk of explosion if exposed to an ignition source.
  • Health Risks: Inhalation of naphtha vapors can cause respiratory issues, dizziness, headache, nausea, and central nervous system depression. Prolonged exposure can lead to more severe health effects, including damage to the liver and kidneys. Skin contact with naphtha can cause irritation, dryness, and dermatitis.
  • Environmental Impact: Spills and leaks of naphtha can contaminate soil and water, posing long-term environmental hazards. It can be toxic to aquatic life and disrupt ecosystems.
  • Handling and Storage: Due to its high volatility and flammability, naphtha requires careful handling and storage. Proper safety measures, such as using explosion-proof equipment, adequate ventilation, and proper grounding and bonding during transfer operations, are essential to prevent accidents.

Safety Precautions

Anyone working in an environment that processes, handles, or stores naphtha should receive training on how to prevent incidents. Workers should also receive adequate personal protective equipment, and be properly supervised while working with this hazardous material. Here are some safety recommendations for anyone working near naphtha:

  • Storage: Naphtha should be stored in tightly sealed containers in well-ventilated areas away from sources of ignition.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Workers handling naphtha should wear appropriate PPE, including gloves, goggles, and flame-resistant clothing.
  • Training: Proper training on the handling, storage, and emergency response procedures for naphtha is crucial for all personnel involved.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Facilities using naphtha should have comprehensive emergency plans in place, including fire suppression systems and spill response protocols.

Understanding the properties and risks associated with naphtha is essential for ensuring the safety of workers and the environment in industries where it is used. It would seem that safety precautions were lacking when the BP-Husky refinery explosion occurred in 2022.

What Can Refinery Explosion Victims do to Protect their Legal Rights?

Victims of refinery explosions can take several steps to protect their legal rights and ensure they receive the compensation and justice they deserve. Here are some recommendations:

Seek Medical Attention

Obtain medical treatment as soon as possible, even if injuries seem minor. Prompt medical attention ensures health issues are addressed and documented, which is critical for any legal claims.

Report the Incident

Notify your employer or the appropriate authority about the explosion and your injuries. Ensure that an official report is filed, documenting the details of the incident.

Document Everything

Keep detailed records of the incident, including the date, time, location, and circumstances of the explosion. Take photos or videos of the scene if possible, and document any visible injuries. Maintain copies of medical records, treatment plans, and expenses related to your injuries. Record any communications with your employer, insurance companies, or any other parties involved.

Consult an Attorney

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in industrial accidents or workplace injuries. An attorney can provide guidance on your rights and help navigate the legal process. At Kherkher Garcia, we offer free initial consultations, so take advantage of this to understand your options without financial commitment.

Preserve Evidence

Preserve any physical evidence related to the explosion, such as damaged clothing, equipment, or PPE. Ensure that the incident scene is not altered until a thorough investigation can be conducted.

File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you are an employee, file a workers’ compensation claim through your employer. This can provide coverage for medical expenses and lost wages due to the injury. Ensure that all required forms are completed accurately and submitted promptly.

Protecting your legal rights after a refinery explosion involves prompt medical attention, thorough documentation, and seeking professional legal advice. Taking these steps can help ensure you receive the compensation and support needed to recover and move forward.

Taking Action After a Refinery Explosion

In addition to medical care and the immediate response to a refinery explosion, there are some things that victims and their families can do to protect their rights and wellbeing. Once you contact an attorney, you will have additional support to ensure you are on the right path toward justice and compensation. Here are some important things to remember:

  • Stay Informed: Keep informed about the investigation and any findings related to the explosion. This information can be crucial for your case. Stay in regular contact with your attorney and provide any new information or documents related to your injury and recovery.
  • Avoid Settling Too Quickly: Be cautious about accepting the first settlement offer from insurance companies or employers. These offers may be lower than what you deserve. Consult with your attorney before agreeing to any settlements to ensure they adequately cover all your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
  • Consider Long-term Implications: Assess the long-term impact of your injuries, including ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitation, and any permanent disabilities. Ensure that any legal settlements or judgments account for future medical costs and loss of earning capacity.
  • File a Personal Injury Lawsuit: If negligence or misconduct contributed to the explosion, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties, such as the employer, contractors, or equipment manufacturers.

Make sure that you communicate any questions or concerns with your attorney. Your legal team is there to guide you through the legal process and advocate for your best interests. Your attorney can help determine the best course of action and represent your interests in court if necessary.

How Kherkher Garcia Helps Refinery Explosion Victims Obtain Justice

If you or a loved one has been affected by an incident similar to the BP-Husky refinery explosion, Kherkher Garcia is here to help you obtain the justice and compensation you deserve. Our experienced team of attorneys specializes in industrial accident cases, offering compassionate and dedicated legal representation. We understand the devastating impact of such incidents and are committed to holding responsible parties accountable.

From securing comprehensive medical records to negotiating with insurance companies and, if necessary, taking your case to court, we handle every aspect of your claim with meticulous care. At Kherkher Garcia, we fight tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and suffering.

Don’t face this challenging time alone. Contact Kherkher Garcia today for a free consultation and let us help you on the path to recovery and justice. Start your free consultation by calling us at 713-333-1030, or by submitting our online contact form.



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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.

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