Texas is one of the most industrial-friendly states in the United States. There are hundreds of industrial facilities in Texas, ranging from product manufacturers to oil refineries to chemical plants. Unfortunately, not only does Texas lead the nation in terms of industrialization, it also leads in the way of industrial incidents.
Research from the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters suggests that Texas has more industrial incidents than any other state. This data highlights the importance of understanding the environment near industrial facilities, as well as how communities can prepare, and respond to, and incident.
Below, the petrochemical injury lawyers at Kherkher Garcia provide some insight into the nature of Texas’ industrial environment, notable incidents raising concerns, and how communities can be prepared.
Industrial Incidents in Texas in 2023
Texas, a major industrial hub in the U.S. has unfortunately witnessed 25 concerning incidents across various sectors in 2023. Here’s a summary of some of these notable occurrences:
- May: A fire at Marathon Petroleum’s Galveston Bay refinery, one of the largest in the country, tragically claimed the life of one worker and injured two others.
- May: Another fire erupted at Valero’s Corpus Christi plant, raising concerns about safety protocols in the industry.
- May: A boiler explosion at the Oak Grove Power Plant in southeastern Texas sadly resulted in the death of a contractor.
- August: A fire and multiple explosions rocked the Sherwin-Williams paint plant in Garland, causing significant damage and raising environmental concerns.
- October: A major explosion and fire at a chemical plant in Shepherd left several workers injured, highlighting the dangers associated with handling hazardous materials.
During 2023, there have been many less-notable reports of smaller fires and leaks at various industrial facilities throughout the state, raising concerns about overall safety standards. These incidents underscore the importance of prioritizing safety regulations and procedures within Texas’s diverse industrial landscape.
What are the Most Common Industrial Incidents?
Industrial incidents encompass a broader range of events that might not necessarily result in injury or damage, but have the potential to cause harm or disrupt operations. Some common factors that result in industrial incidents include:
- Chemical Spills or Leaks: Accidental release of hazardous chemicals or substances, which can pose health risks to workers, nearby residents, and the environment.
- Equipment Malfunctions or Failures: Breakdowns or failures of machinery, tools, or equipment, which can cause production delays, property damage, or injuries to workers.
- Fire and Explosions: These incidents can result from various causes such as electrical faults, chemical reactions, or improper handling of flammable materials, leading to property damage, injuries, and potentially fatalities.
- Structural Failures: Collapse or failure of buildings, structures, or support systems, causing injuries or fatalities to workers and potential damage to property.
- Electrical Incidents: Including electrical shocks, arc flashes, or other accidents related to electrical systems, which can cause severe injuries or fatalities.
- Workplace Violence: Incidents involving physical assaults, threats, or aggressive behavior, which can endanger the safety and well-being of employees.
- Natural Disasters: Events such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, or severe weather conditions that can disrupt operations, cause damage, and pose risks to the safety of workers.
- Health and Safety Violations: Instances where safety protocols, regulations, or procedures are not followed, leading to potential hazards or risks to employees’ health and well-being.
Preventing these incidents often involves implementing strict safety protocols, providing adequate training for employees, conducting regular inspections, maintaining equipment, and following industry-specific regulations and standards. Prompt response and effective emergency preparedness plans are also crucial to mitigate the impact of these incidents if they occur.
How do Industrial Incidents Impact Nearby Communities?
Industrial incidents can have far-reaching consequences beyond the workplace, impacting nearby communities in various ways. Some of the most significant threats to communities near industrial facilities include:
Chemical spills, leaks, or explosions from industrial incidents can release hazardous substances into the air, water, or soil. This exposure can lead to acute or chronic health issues for nearby residents, including respiratory problems, skin irritations, and long-term health complications.
Chemical releases or spills can contaminate water sources, soil, and the air, affecting ecosystems, wildlife, and local vegetation. This contamination can have long-lasting effects on the environment, including soil infertility, water pollution, and disruption of local ecosystems.
Evacuations and Displacement
In severe cases, industrial incidents may necessitate evacuations or shelter-in-place orders for nearby communities to protect residents from immediate harm. This displacement can disrupt daily life, cause stress, and lead to economic hardships for affected individuals and businesses.
Explosions, fires, or structural failures resulting from industrial incidents can cause damage to nearby properties, including homes, businesses, and infrastructure. This damage may lead to financial losses for individuals and communities.
Industrial incidents can disrupt local economies by interrupting business operations, causing job losses, and affecting industries that rely on the affected area for resources, manufacturing, or distribution.
Communities near industrial incidents may experience fear, anxiety, and stress due to concerns about their health, safety, and the long-term consequences of the incident. Fear of future incidents can also impact the mental well-being of residents.
Community Trust and Relationships
Incidents can strain the relationship between the affected industry and the community, leading to a loss of trust. Lack of transparency, communication, or perceived negligence in preventing incidents may further erode community trust in industrial operations.
Efforts to mitigate the impact of industrial incidents on nearby communities involve effective communication, emergency response plans, community involvement in safety measures, regular risk assessments, and implementing stringent safety and environmental regulations to prevent accidents.
Do Families Living Near Chemical Plants Need a Disaster Supply Kit?
Living near a chemical plant means being prepared for potential emergencies like chemical spills, leaks, or explosions. A disaster supply kit specific can be helpful if disaster strikes. Here’s a list of items to include:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): N95 masks or respirators to protect against airborne chemicals. Safety goggles to shield eyes from chemical exposure. Gloves made of nitrile or similar materials to protect hands.
- Emergency Information: Contact information for local emergency services and the chemical plant/refinery. Evacuation routes and emergency plans. Information on potential chemical hazards and how to respond.
- First Aid Kit: Bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze, and adhesive tape. Burn cream or gel. Eyewash solution in case of eye exposure to chemicals.
- Portable Radio and Batteries: A battery-powered or hand-crank emergency radio to receive updates and instructions from authorities.
- Non-Perishable Food and Water: Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food items per person. Gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. Manual can opener.
- Personal Hygiene Items: Sanitary wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, and tissues. Personal hygiene products like toothpaste, toothbrushes, and sanitary items.
- Blankets and Clothing: Extra clothing appropriate for the season. Blankets or sleeping bags for warmth if displaced.
- Whistle and Flashlight: A whistle to signal for help. Flashlights with extra batteries for navigating in darkness.
- Important Documents: Copies of identification, insurance papers, medical records, and other vital documents stored in a waterproof container.
- Cash and Credit Cards: Keep some cash in small denominations and credit/debit cards in case ATMs or electronic payments are inaccessible.
- Multi-Tool or Basic Toolkit: A multi-tool or basic toolkit for minor repairs or adjustments.
Remember to periodically check your disaster supply kit, replacing expired items and ensuring everything is in good condition.
What to Do if an Industrial Incident Affects You
If you are affected by an industrial incident, it’s essential to take certain steps to ensure your safety, health, and well-being. Here are some actions to consider:
Follow official instructions and information provided by local authorities, emergency services, and the industrial facility involved in the incident. Listen to radio broadcasts, TV updates, or use reliable sources on the internet for accurate information.
If you’re advised to shelter in place or evacuate, follow these instructions immediately. Close windows and doors, shut off HVAC systems, and seal gaps to prevent outside air from entering if there’s a risk of chemical exposure. Use personal protective equipment if available, such as masks, gloves, or goggles, to minimize exposure to hazardous substances.
Seek Medical Attention
If you or anyone around you experiences symptoms of illness or injury related to the incident, seek medical help immediately. Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, skin irritation, dizziness, nausea, or other unusual health issues.
Contact Emergency Services
Report any emergencies or incidents to local emergency services or authorities. Provide them with accurate information about your location and the nature of the problem.
Follow Instructions for Decontamination
If you suspect exposure to hazardous chemicals, follow decontamination procedures recommended by emergency responders or health authorities. Remove contaminated clothing, rinse skin thoroughly with water, and seek medical attention.
Document and Report Health Issues
Keep records of any health issues or symptoms you or your family experience after the incident. Report these to healthcare professionals and authorities, as it might be essential for future health assessments or claims.
Document Damages and Losses
Keep records of any property damage, financial losses, or expenses incurred due to the incident. Documentation might be necessary for insurance claims or compensation purposes.
Contact a Lawyer
If you or someone in your family suffers injuries or illness due to an industrial incident, you may also find it helpful to contact a petrochemical injury lawyer. If the incident was caused by negligence, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for any damages you suffered from the incident. This may include medical expenses, property damages, loss of income, and more.
Your safety and health should be the priority during and after an industrial incident. Following official instructions and seeking appropriate assistance can help mitigate risks and ensure proper support in such situations.
Contact a Petrochemical Injury Lawyer for Help
If you are battling injuries or illness due to an industrial incident, the petrochemical injury lawyers at Kherkher Garcia want to help you. We can help you make sense of your situation and determine the best course of action. Our team has more than 30 years of experience helping injury victims explore their legal rights and options for recovery after traumatic injury events.
If you have questions about injuries or illness related to industrial incidents, contact us today for a free consultation. Our team can provide you with helpful information and support as you explore your rights and options. Call us at 713-333-1030, or fill out our online form to get started.
Image by Freepik