On November 27, 2019, an explosion rocked the TPC Group, LLC chemical plant in Port Neches, Texas. OSHA opened an investigation after a butadiene finishing tower caught fire and exploded due to vapor that had formed at the base of the tower. This explosion caused several other explosions and fires, resulting in injuries and damages to TPC Group workers, nearby residents, and businesses. Jefferson County Judge, Jeff Branick, issued orders for the surrounding area due to the severity of the explosion and the carcinogenic nature and combustibility of the leaking chemical, butadiene. Benny Agosto, Jr., firm partner of Abraham Watkins, is currently representing injured workers and victims affected by the violent blast.
Yesterday, May 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited TPC Group for three willful violations amounting to $514,692 in fines. OSHA cited TPC Group for exposing employees to workplace safety and health hazards after the fire and explosion. OSHA stated in their news release that they cited TPC for “failing to develop and implement procedures for emergency shutdown, and inspect and test process vessel and piping components.”
Loren Sweatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, stated that “employers are required to conduct regular inspections and address potential hazardous conditions associated with chemical processes to prevent catastrophic events from occurring.”
TPC Group will have 15 business days after receiving the citation to comply with OSHA’s penalties, request a conference with an area OSHA director, or dispute the findings to have them reviewed by the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.