Accidents at Refineries are Raising Questions

Photo of Benny Agosto

With the latest fire and explosion connected to BP, the offshore rig off the coast of Louisiana that caused fatal and serious injuries to many workers last week, many family members, as well as federal investigators have become increasingly frustrated. An accident at Tesoro Corporation's Anacortes, Washington refinery on April 2, 2010 that killed five employees and critically burned two others has brought refinery accidents into focus again, just five years after fifteen workers were killed and more than one hundred injured in an explosion at BP's Texas City refinery. The accident at Tesoro's plant was the worst in the industry since the BP disaster. And now, only a few weeks after the Tesoro fire, BP is once again the target of the United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Board investigators who are trying to figure out how and why BP's latest disaster caused so much death and devastation in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the overall United States workforce, fewer workers are dying on the job--5,071 died in 2008 compared with 6,632 in 1994. However, the number of serious accidents and fatalities at refineries seems disproportionately high, federal officials say.
It's impossible to know for sure because the Labor statistics do not track refinery deaths or accidents by location or company. Part of the problem, some worker advocates say, is that there are few incentives for refineries to make work environments safer, and little in the way of consequences from the Occupational Safety & Hazard Administration when there's a serious accident.
Many are now calling for some thorough investigations and stiffer fines for rule violators. Safety specialists across the country claim that the problems leading to these explosions and continued deaths at refineries are as a result of problems that have become systematic in the industry. Simply put, placing production over safety.
The latest BP explosion seems to be more of the same problems that worker advocates have been warning against for quite some time now. (See my blogs on the subject since January 2010).

Here is a highlight of accidents that occurred at refineries in the past few years:

April 20, 2010 The Deep Horizon oil rig located 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in Gulf Coast waters exploded unexpectedly, causing a destructive fire. At least eleven workers suffered fatal injury, while the numbered of injured workers remains unknown. As a result of the explosion, the Gulf of Mexico will suffer tremendous amounts of oil pollution, resulting in damage to the coasts of Louisiana, Texas Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida; as well as, seriously affecting other industry and recreational concerns.

April 2, 2010 Tesoro refinery explosion and fire in Anacortes, Washington killed five and injured two. The refinery had been fined recently for safety violations.

March 2, 2010 An explosion and fire at Dallas-based Holly Corp.'s refinery in New Mexico, which resulted in the death of two workers.

December 4, 2009 A boiler failed at San Antonio-based Valero Energy's Texas City plant, killing one worker.

March 10, 2009 Explosion at a Marathon Oil Corp. facility in Vacherie, Louisiana, killing one worker and injuring three.

November 6, 2005 Two workers were killed at a Valero oil refinery in Delaware City, Delaware, after succumbing to effects of inhalation of nitrogen fumes.

March 23, 2005 BP refinery explosion in Texas City killed fifteen people and injuring more than one hundred. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board issued its final report in 2007, whereby it criticized the lack of OSHA oversight and cost cutting, as well as, the lack of safety procedures at BP.

*Information gathered from the Houston Chronicle.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories