On October 30, 2019, the CSB (U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board), an independent U.S. federal agency, released a new report regarding the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) fire. Attorney Benny Agosto, Jr. of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner represents thousands of claimants who have suffered harm due to the ITC fire and explosion. This new report has identified issues that show the company was not equipped with gas detection alarms or emergency shutoff valves, which could have stopped an uncontrolled release of the chemicals that led to the fire explosion on March 17, 2019.
Additionally, without the alarms installed in the tanks, there were no alarms activated in the ITC control room, therefore, the ITC personnel were not aware of the chemical release before the fire erupted.
The CSB said components from the Tank 80-8 piping manifold were taken to a secure storage facility, where they completed an initial visual inspection of the piping and pump. Further testing on the piping manifold will be conducted.
The CSB preliminary investigation revealed that the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) was unable to stop the release of naptha, a flammable liquid used as a blend stock for production of gasoline, from an 80,000-barrel above-ground storage tank. While the federal report did not conclude what originally sparked the fire that intensified and spread to additional tanks, it did provide a detailed timeline of what led up to the massive blaze.
This is the second federal agency to find negligence against ITC — OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) filed four citations for this incident.
The first citation stated that ITC’s first suppression system was not in an area that could handle the fire, so it was hard to suppress the fire if the system burns in the fire.
The second citation stated that ITC did not implement written procedures to maintain the ongoing integrity of process equipment. This exposed employees to fire hazards.
The third citation said ITC failed to inspect and test the piping on the naptha tank where the fire originated.
The fourth citation said the piping connected to that tank was too thin, and the employer failed to correct that deficiency.
Agosto stated, “this more recent report (CSB) reveals the continued pattern of neglect by ITC of the duties owed to both workers and neighbors in the surrounding communities. Sadly, this includes the thousands of people I represent, and other folks affected by ITC’s negligence.”