In April 2013, an explosion at an ammonium nitrate storage facility rocked the small town of West, Texas, and killed over a dozen people, including first responders.
In January 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a new regulation that sought to prevent tragedies like the one in West, Texas. The new rule required companies to provide more information to local officials regarding the hazardous chemicals that they store for the purpose of improving emergency planning and required companies to hold more frequent training for emergency situations.
However, last month, the EPA backtracked and repealed the regulation over concerns that the requirements were too burdensome, and that the obligation to disclose the hazardous chemicals that were stored at a facility increased the risk of terrorist attacks.
This repeal affects all of the chemical storage facilities and refineries in Texas. Furthermore, the dangers of hazardous chemicals do not just affect those that work at a chemical facility, but also the surrounding communities. For example, just last week, an explosion at a chemical refinery in Port Neches, Texas caused local officials to issue a mandatory evacuation for the surrounding community.
Unfortunately, companies will no longer have to publicly disclose information regarding what types of chemicals they store. Additionally, companies will no longer have to abide by several safety procedures, such as having a third-party audit the facility after an accident or major chemical release.
However, even though chemical companies no longer have to disclose all the risks of their operations, that does not mean they cannot be held accountable for their negligence. Companies still have a legal duty to make sure that they handle dangerous chemicals in a safe and secure manner. If a company fails to uphold its duty to operate safely, it can be held responsible for the injuries they cause.
If you are injured by a chemical explosion or release, you need a lawyer that is experienced in handling lawsuits involving chemical companies.
The lawyers at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner have decades of experience fighting for the rights of people injured by hazardous chemicals, including people injured by the explosion in West, Texas. If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of a dangerous chemical explosion or release, contact us today by calling (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.