Chemical Plant Explosion Causes Injures, Exposes Many to Smoke & Fumes
On November 8, 2023, the small town of Shepherd, Texas, about an hour northeast of Houston, experienced a significant incident when a chemical plant explosion occurred early in the morning on Farm-to-Market Road 1127. The blast, which took place around 7 a.m., was followed by a large chemical fire. This fire sent smoke plumes northwards toward the Livingston area, propelled by winds of 15-20 mph.
The explosion happened at the Sound Resource Solutions facility, a petroleum processing plant that specializes in producing solvents for glue and paint thinner. Following the explosion, at least one person was reported to have sustained burn injuries. To ensure the safety of the surrounding community, authorities quickly issued a shelter-in-place order for everyone within a five-mile radius of the site, which was later reduced to a one-mile radius. Additionally, a private school in the vicinity of the plant was evacuated as a precautionary measure.
The nature of the chemicals released into the air from the burning facility was a cause for concern, leading officials to advise local residents to turn off their air conditioning systems until the air quality could be assessed and deemed safe. The explosion prompted the closure of U.S. Highway 59 in both directions between Shepherd and Goodrich.
What Caused the Explosion?
The cause of the explosion at the chemical plant remains under investigation. However, it is known that chemical plant explosions can result from various factors, including inadequate hazard reviews, poor equipment design, or ignored safety warnings. According to the plant owner, an accident involving a forklift caused the explosion, although more specific details have not been forthcoming.
In incidents like this, the company operating the plant has a responsibility to protect its workers and prioritize safety. Worker safety is a paramount concern in industrial settings in Texas, and industrial plant owners in the state are bound by a combination of federal and state laws that mandate a safe and healthy working environment.
At the federal level, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the primary body governing worker safety. OSHA mandates include hazard identification and remediation, requiring plant owners to conduct regular inspections and implement safety protocols to identify and rectify potential hazards in the workplace. Employers are also required to provide appropriate training to workers on safety practices and emergency procedures.
In addition to federal regulations, the Texas Health and Safety Code outlines specific responsibilities for plant owners toward their workers. Employers must ensure that their plants meet the state’s safety standards, including specific requirements for industries related to chemical manufacturing and oil refining. Texas law also requires industrial plants to have detailed emergency response plans in place, particularly for handling hazardous materials. Texas employers can limit their liability for industrial accidents and injuries by subscribing to workers’ compensation insurance, but one way or another, they are liable to their employees for injuries caused by hazards on the job.
Failure to adhere to OSHA or state safety standards can result in large fines and penalties imposed by the government, along with civil liability for worker injuries or death caused by negligence on the part of plant ownership or management. In extreme cases, particularly where gross negligence is evident, criminal charges may be brought as well.
Call Gilbert Adams Law Offices for Help After an Industrial Accident in Texas
If you’ve been hurt in an industrial explosion, fire or other incident at a Texas oil refinery or chemical plant, Gilbert Adams Law Offices offers experienced and dedicated support to see that you get the medical care and compensation you need and are entitled to under the law. For help in Beaumont, Houston, or Texas statewide, call 409-835-3000 for a no-cost consultation with our skilled and successful personal injury lawyers.