The oil and gas industry are a key industry in Texas, employing hundreds of thousands of workers throughout our great state. Places near Houston, like Texas City, have some of the largest oil and gas plants in the United States. Unfortunately, working in the oil and gas industry can be very dangerous. Due to the risks oil and gas workers face on a day-to-day basis, there are volumes of federal laws enacted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) aimed at protecting workers and preventing explosions at plants. If you are the victim of an oil and gas plant explosion, you need a skilled Houston plant explosion lawyer who knows how to investigate the law and use it to hold refinery owners accountable for their negligence in breaking safety regulations.
Why are refinery explosions so dangerous?
An oil refinery is an industrial processing plant that separates hydrocarbon molecules from crude oil by breaking down the crude into various components. Many of these components are flammable, explosive, corrosive, or carcinogenic. Facilities also tend to be very large and, as a result, handle a large volume of hazardous components.
Oil is just one of the components produced by plants. Other parts generated from the refining of crude oil are used as raw materials that chemical plants need to make plastics, nylon, detergents, solvents, and other household items. The process itself involves the use of extreme heat, energy, and chemicals to convert matter from one form to another (such as liquids into gases). Gases and liquids are often highly flammable and can cause massive explosions if improperly mixed, ignited, or handled. Also, many of the chemicals and gases are toxic or corrosive.
Causes of refinery explosions
Not all oil and gas refinery explosions are the same. Different plants can focus on various products and handle different volumes. However, they all must have certain essential parts that make them dangerous. Plants require a crude oil storage area. They need a distillery and several processing units that use energy to separate the hydrocarbon molecules. They require chemical cooling towers that cool heated components after separation. Plants require a place and a procedure to store and transport oil and various chemical components after they have been separated. Also, Federal Law requires that any soil contaminated by spills or chemical releases be safely stored until it can be taken to an approved and purified toxic cleanup site. Therefore, plants require a storage area for contaminated waste.
Explosions can occur during any of the steps in the process. Equipment failures are a significant cause of explosions in oil and gas plants. Equipment failures can happen in the distillery, processing units, or storage facilities. Whether due to corroded pipeline or a faulty valve when equipment fails, the resulting toxic chemical release may expose only a few in the immediate area to danger, or it may cause an explosion with widespread effects. Exposure to chemical emissions in oil and gas plants is another type of explosion that we have successfully handled in our practice.
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