Major Pipeline Explosions And Oil Spills

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Large Pipeline Explosion and Oil Spill Accidents Around the World

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 2.6 million miles of pipelines exist across the nation, transporting hazardous liquids, natural gas and petroleum throughout all 50 states. Outside and around the United States, large industrial tankers transport oil, gas and other fuels on the open waters. Unfortunately, at times these methods of petrochemical transportation fail, causing horrific disasters that destroy the environment and cause injuries or even deaths to oil workers and residents.

That’s where we come in.

At Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, the oldest plaintiffs personal injury firm in Texas, our attorneys have spent 70 years fighting for the rights of those injured by the negligence of large corporations. We are experienced in handling a variety of pipeline explosion and oil spill cases.

Below is a sampling of some of the major pipeline explosions and oil spill incidents across the U.S. and in international waters in the past 50 years. Our lawyers have been involved in several of these cases and situations similar to these. To learn more, contact our Houston office online or call 713-396-3964 (toll free 800-594-4884).

Explosion Cases Our Attorneys Have Been Involved With

DCP Midstream Pipeline Explosion, 6/8/2010 — Darrouzett, Texas

On June 8, workers doing excavation work hit an unmarked natural gas pipeline. The ensuing blast killed two workers and seriously burned another.

Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Oil Spill, 4/24/2010 — Gulf of Mexico

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig exploded, killing 11 people. Two days later, the rig sank, causing the riser (a 5,000-foot-long pipe that connects the wellhead to the rig) to detach and start leaking oil. Shortly thereafter, U.S. Coast Guard investigators discovered a second leak in the wellhead itself. For weeks, as much as 60,000 barrels of oil per day leaked into the water, threatening wildlife along the Louisiana Coast. To date, it is the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Centerpoint Energy Residential House Explosion, 10/22/2009 — Houston, Texas

A residential home exploded late one morning, killing a woman and seriously injuring her daughter. Centerpoint employees were at the house next door when the home exploded.

Rupture of Hazardous Liquid Pipeline with Release and Ignition of Propane, 11/1/2007 — Carmichael, Mississippi

At 10:35 a.m. on Nov. 1, 2007, a 12-inch-diameter pipeline segment operated by Dixie Pipeline Co. was transporting liquid propane when it ruptured in a rural area near Carmichael, Mississippi. The resulting gas cloud expanded over nearby homes and ignited, creating a large fireball that was heard and seen from miles away. About 430,626 gallons of propane were released. As a result of the ensuing fire, two people were killed and seven people sustained minor injuries. Four houses were destroyed, and several others were damaged. About 71.4 acres of grassland and woodland were burned. Dixie Pipeline Co. reported that property damage resulting from the accident, including the loss of product, totaled $3,377,247.

Explosion at BP Refinery, 3/23/2005 — Texas City, Texas

On March 23, employees at the BP refinery in Texas City were re-starting a tower that had been down for repairs when gas overflowed the tower, resulting in an explosion that killed 15 workers and injured another 170. Damages for the Texas City disaster totaled over $1 billion.

Entex Residential House Explosion, 7/20/1998 — Pasadena, Texas

On July 20, a construction crew working in a residential neighborhood hit a buried natural gas pipeline. The resulting explosion blew the roof off a nearby home in which an elderly woman was babysitting three children. The woman died and the children were severely burned.

Explosion at Wyman-Gordon Metal Forging Plant, 12/22/1996 — Houston, Texas

On December 22, just before midnight, a maintenance crew was working on several 90-foot high nitrogen tanks. Suddenly a pressure leak cause the lid to blow off of one of the tanks, killing eight workers and seriously injuring two others. Settlements of the eight wrongful death lawsuits were not disclosed, but damages were established to be in the millions.

Multiple Incidents at Phillips Petroleum Co. Houston Facility, 1989, 1999, 2000 — Houston, Texas

In 1989, multiple petrochemical explosions at the Phillips 66 Petroleum Co.’s facility killed more than 20 oil and gas workers and seriously injured more than 300. Ten years later, a pipe explosion in the facility’s K-Resin plant killed two contractors and injured three other workers. And one year later, the same plant experienced another explosion, killing one worker and injuring more than 70.

Fire on Occidental Petroleum’s Piper Alpha Rig, 7/6/1988 — North Sea off Scotland

On July 6, around 10 pm, a gas leak on pump on Occidental Petroleum’s Piper Alpha rig caused a fire. The fire spread, resulting in a series of explosions that eventually caused much of the offshore drilling rig to collapse, killing 166 workers.

Other Major Pipeline Explosions and Oil Spills Since 2000

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Rupture and Fire, 9/9/2010 — San Bruno, California

At 6:11 p.m. on Sept. 9, 2010, a 30-inch-diameter segment of an intrastate natural gas transmission pipeline owned and operated by the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), ruptured in a residential area in San Bruno, California. The rupture produced a crater about 72 feet long by 26 feet wide. PG&E estimated that 47.6 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was released; the released natural gas ignited, resulting in a fire that destroyed 38 homes and damaged 70. Eight people were killed, many were injured and many more were evacuated from the area.

Oil Tanker Eagle Otome Crash and Oil Spill, 1/23/2010 — Port Arthur, Texas
On Jan. 23, 2000, the oil tanker Eagle Otome collided with a barge in the Sabine-Neches Waterway, near Port Arthur, Texas. The collision caused almost 462,000 gallons of crude oil to flow from the tanker. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, environmental damage was minimal as about 46,000 gallons were recovered and 175,000 gallons were dispersed or evaporated.

Explosion, Release and Ignition of Natural Gas, 12/24/2008 — Rancho Cordova, California

About 1:35 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2008, an explosion and fire caused by a natural gas leak destroyed a house in Rancho Cordova, California. One person suffered fatal injuries and five other people, including one utility employee and one firefighter, were hospitalized as a result of the explosion. Two adjacent homes, one on either side, were severely damaged, and several homes suffered minor damage. The morning of the accident, a resident had reported smelling a gas leak.

Fuel Barge Collision and Chemical Spill, 7/25/2008 — New Orleans, Louisiana

On July 25, 2008, a 61-foot barge carrying 419,000 gallons of heavy fuel collided with a 600-foot tanker ship in the Mississippi River near New Orleans. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel leaked from the barge, stopping all river traffic while cleanup efforts took place.

Natural Gas Distribution Line Break and Subsequent Explosion and Fire, 3/5/2008 — Plum Borough, Pennsylvania

At 1:39 p.m. on March 5, 2008, a natural gas explosion destroyed a house in Plum Borough, Pennsylvania, killing a man and seriously injuring a 4-year-old girl. Two other houses were destroyed, and 11 houses were damaged. Property damage and losses totaled $1 million.

Oil Tanker Hebei Spirit Collision and Oil Spill, 12/7/2007 — South Korea

On Dec. 7, 2007, a few miles off South Korea’s west coast, the Hebei Spirit collided with a steel wire connecting a tugboat to a barge. The collision caused the tanker to break open, spilling 2.8 million gallons of crude oil. The spill spanned over 12 miles of coastland, destroyed beaches, covered birds and oysters in oil and closed down tourism in the area because of the stench.

Oil Tanker Sank, 8/11/2006 — Guimaras Island, the Philippines

On Aug. 11, 2006, an oil tanker carrying 530,000 gallons of oil sank off the coast of the Philippines, putting the country’s fishing and tourism industries at great risk.

Jieh Coast Power Station Bombed, 7/15/2006 — Beirut, Lebanon

The Israeli Navy bombed the Jieh coast power station, causing between 3 million and 10 million gallons of oil to leak into the sea. More than 100 miles of coastline were damaged.

CITGO Refinery Tank Spill, 6/19/2006 — Calcasieu River, Louisiana

A violent rainstorm on June 19, 2006, caused a storage tank at the CITGO refinery on the Calcasieu River to break, releasing an estimated 71,000 barrels of waste oil.

Natural Gas Service Line Break and Subsequent Explosion and Fire, 12/13/2005 — Bergenfield, New Jersey

At 9:26 a.m. on Dec. 13, 2005, an apartment building in Bergenfield, New Jersey, exploded after natural gas migrated into the building from a damaged pipeline. Investigators found a break in an underground steel natural gas line, near where excavators were removing an oil tank that was buried under an adjacent parking lot. Three residents of the apartment building were killed. Four residents and a tank removal worker were injured and transported to hospitals. Property damage amounted to more than $863,300.

Hurricane Katrina Oil Spill Damage, 8/2005 — New Orleans, Louisiana

In August and September 2005, the Coast Guard estimated that more than 7 million gallons of oil were spilled during Hurricane Katrina from various sources, including pipelines, storage tanks and industrial plants.

Oil Tanker Grounded on Alaska Shore, 12/7/2004 — Aleutian Islands, Alaska

On Dec. 7, 2004, a major storm pushed the M/V Selendang Ayu up onto a rocky shore, causing it to break in two. As the tanker broke, it released more than 337,000 gallons of oil, most of which ended up on the shoreline of Makushin and Skan bays.

Anhydrous Ammonia Pipeline Rupture, 10/27/2004 — Kingman, Kansas

About 11:15 a.m. on Oct. 27, 2004, an 8-inch-diameter pipeline owned by Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P., and operated by Enterprise Products Operating L.P. ruptured near Kingman, Kansas, and released approximately 204,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia. Nobody was killed or injured, but the anhydrous ammonia leaked into a creek and killed more than 25,000 fish (including some from threatened species). The cost of the accident was $680,715, including $459,415 for environmental remediation.

Natural Gas Pipeline Leak, Explosion and Fire, 8/21/2004 — DuBois, Pennsylvania

At 8:54 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2004, a natural gas explosion destroyed a home in DuBois, Pennsylvania, killing two residents.

Oil Tanker Tasman Spirit Ran Aground, 7/28/2003 — Pakistan

On July 28, 2003, the oil tanker Tasman Spirit ran aground near Pakistan’s Karachi port. Eventually, the tanker cracked into two pieces, causing one of its four oil tanks to burst open and leak 28,000 tons of crude oil into the sea.

Storage Tank Explosion and Fire, 4/7/2003 — Glenpool, Oklahoma

At 8:55 p.m. on April 7, 2003, an 80,000-barrel storage tank at ConocoPhillips Co.’s Glenpool South tank farm in Glenpool, Oklahoma, exploded and burned as it was being filled with diesel. The fire burned for about 21 hours and damaged two other storage tanks in the area. The cost of the accident, including emergency response, environmental remediation, evacuation, lost product, property damage and claims, was $2,357,483. There were no injuries or fatalities, but nearby residents were evacuated and schools were closed for two days.

Excavation Damage to Natural Gas Distribution Line Resulting in Explosion and Fire, 7/2/2003 — Wilmington, Delaware

On July 2, 2003, a contractor hired by the city of Wilmington, Delaware, to replace sidewalk and curbing dug into an unmarked natural gas service line with a backhoe. Although the service line did not leak where it was struck, it did cause a gas line in the basement of a nearby home to break. Because the contractor did not smell gas, he did not believe there was imminent danger, so he simply called an employee of the gas company and left a voice mail message. At 1:44 p.m., an explosion destroyed two residences and damaged two others to the extent that they had to be demolished. Other nearby residences were damaged, and residents on the block were displaced from their homes for about a week. Three contractor employees sustained serious injuries. Eleven additional people sustained minor injuries.

Oil Tanker Prestige Sank, 11/13/2002 — Spain

On Nov. 13, 2002, the oil tanker Prestige suffered a damaged hull and was towed to sea, where it sank. Much of the 20 million gallons of oil still remains underwater.

Rupture of Enbridge Pipeline and Release of Crude Oil, 7/4/2002 — Cohasset, Minnesota

At 2:12 a.m. on July 4, 2002, a 34-inch-diameter steel pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge Pipelines, LLC, ruptured in a marsh west of Cohasset, Minnesota, releasing approximately 252,000 gallons of crude oil. The cost of the accident was reported to the Research and Special Programs Administration Office of Pipeline Safety to be approximately $5.6 million. No deaths or injuries resulted from the release.

Westchester Oil Tanker Spill, 11/28/2000 — Port Sulphur, Louisiana

On Nov. 28 on the Mississippi River just south of New Orleans, the oil tanker Westchester lost power and ran aground near Port Sulphur, Louisiana. The crash dumped 567,000 gallons of crude oil into the lower Mississippi. As of 2000, the spill was the largest in U.S. waters since the Exxon Valdez disaster in March 1989.

Natural Gas Pipeline Rupture and Fire, 8/19/2000 — Carlsbad, New Mexico

At 5:26 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000, a 30-inch-diameter natural gas transmission pipeline operated by El Paso Natural Gas Co. ruptured next to the Pecos River near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The released gas ignited and burned for 55 minutes. Twelve people who were camping under a concrete-decked steel bridge that supported the pipeline across the river were killed and their three vehicles destroyed. Two nearby steel suspension bridges for gas pipelines crossing the river were also extensively damaged. According to El Paso Natural Gas Co., property and other damages or losses totaled $998,296.

Rupture of Piney Point Oil Pipeline and Release of Fuel Oil, 4/7/2000 — Chalk Point, Maryland

On the morning of April 7, 2000, the Piney Point Oil Pipeline system, which was owned by the Potomac Electric Power Co., experienced a pipe failure at the Chalk Point Generating Station in southeastern Prince George’s County, Maryland. The release was not discovered and addressed by the contract operating company, Support Terminal Services Inc., until late afternoon. Approximately 140,400 gallons of fuel oil were released into the surrounding wetlands and Swanson Creek and, subsequently, the Patuxent River. No injuries were caused by the accident, which cost approximately $71 million for environmental response and cleanup operations.

Hazardous Liquid Pipe Failure and Leak, Explorer Pipeline Co., 3/9/2000 — Greenville, Texas

At 10:20 p.m. on March 9, 2000, a 28-inch-diameter pipeline owned and operated by Explorer Pipeline Co. ruptured and released about 564,000 gallons of gasoline. Following the pipeline rupture, nearby residents called 911 and Explorer to report the smell of gasoline. The morning after the accident, the gasoline spill had been contained to a 2.5-mile radius, but then heavy rains caused rising waters to move the gasoline spill further downstream — eventually reaching Lake Tawakoni, which is a major water supply for Dallas and its neighboring communities. The resulting property damage and cleanup costs for environmental and water contamination topped $18 million.

Hazardous Liquid Pipe Failure and Leak, Marathon Ashland Pipe Line, LLC, 1/27/2000 — Winchester, Kentucky

At 12:12 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2000, a Marathon Ashland Pipe Line, LLC, pipeline that runs 265 miles between Owensboro and Catlettsburg, Kentucky, ruptured near Winchester, Kentucky. The ruptured pipeline released about 489,000 gallons of crude oil onto a golf course and into Twomile Creek. No injuries or deaths resulted from the accident. As of Dec. 13, 2000, Marathon Ashland had spent about $7.1 million in response to the accident.

Brazilian Government Oil Pipeline Rupture and Oil Spill, 1/18/2000 — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

On Jan. 18, 2000, a ruptured pipeline owned by government-owned oil company Petrobras spewed 343,200 gallons of heavy oil into Guanabara Bay just outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Pipeline Explosions and Oil Spills Before 2000

* Information compiled from the National Transportation Safety Board and Pearson Education’s InfoPlease Online Encyclopedia.

  • Incidents In The 1990s
  • Incidents In The 1980s
  • Incidents In The 1970s
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