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Houston — Damaged Storage Facility Contaminates Houston Channel, Creates Cloud of Cancer-Causing Chemical

Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2019 at 1:35 am    

A fire that broke out at the Intercontinental Terminal Co. (ITC) facility in Deer Park, Texas about a week ago has proven to be potentially more dangerous than initially thought. This is because on the one hand, it has created a large plume of black smoke that contains the cancer-causing chemical benzene and this smoke not only hangs over the city but it has also started to drift off over the eastern parts of Harris County, even reaching out as far as Austin and San Antonio. And for another, it has also caused oil byproducts to leak into the Houston Ship Channel after a dike wall collapsed because of a new fire that reignited in the facility last Friday, March 22, 2019.

As a result to these recent developments, the ship channel is closed for the meantime. Captain Kevin Oditt with the U.S. Coast Guard said that they deployed a total of 8,500 feet of boom, hoping to trap as much of the chemical waste that entered the water as possible. Unfortunately, even with these efforts, some of the waste still did make it to the ship channel’s waters, and so far, nine toxins were detected, most particularly benzene — a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor that is also a known carcinogen. Other chemicals detected were total xylenes, pyrene, anthracene, ethylbenzene, toluene, phenanthrene, fluoranthene, and 2-methylnaphthalene.

On Friday, ITC reported that there were still about 60,000 barrels (2.52 million gallons) of hazardous chemicals in the damaged section of the complex, and by Saturday morning, they no longer knew how much remained.

Ever since the fire broke out and the air has been contaminated with several chemicals, about 1,000 people have sought treatment at a pop-up clinic because of nausea, headaches, and other symptoms, with 15 of the most severe cases brought to hospital emergency rooms. With this, the Texas National Guard has dispatched troops to assist local authorities with air monitoring, thus prompting take-shelter alerts and road closures.

This chemical plant fire is now being considered as the worst industrial disaster since the March 2005 explosion at BP Plc’s Texas City refinery that killed 15 people.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board will be investigating the blaze. Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is planning to file a lawsuit against ITC, accusing the latter of violating clean-air laws.

It is unfortunate to hear of this chemical plant fire and the consequences that residents are experiencing because of this. Alas, fires in industrial or manufacturing properties are common occurrences in the United States. In fact, between 2011 and 2015, municipal fire departments in the U.S. reported that an estimated average of 37,910 fires at industrial or manufacturing properties happen each year, with annual losses from these fires estimated at 16 civilian deaths, 273 civilian injuries, and $1.2 billion in direct property damage. Furthermore, structure fires accounted for 20% of the fires, 49% of civilian deaths, 80% of civilian injuries, and 67% of direct property damage.

Additionally, oil spills are incredibly dangerous as well. Oil spills caused by damaged tankers, pipelines, or offshore oil rigs almost always result in immediate and long-term environmental damage that can last for decades. This is because they coat everything they touch and become long-term but unwelcome parts of every ecosystem they enter. As a result, they can have damaging consequences to the marine life in particular, killing or contaminating fish and smaller organisms. Oil spills can indirectly affect humans too, especially if they consume contaminated organisms or have some contact with contaminated water or sand (in the case of beaches).

Industrial fires and oil spills can be as complicated as they are damaging to the victims. Thankfully, there are lawyers who are experts in cases like this. That is why, if you think you are a victim of an effect of an oil spill/chemical plant fire, or you know someone who is, or you lost a loved one because of this, then please never hesitate in asking help from these lawyers. They will help you in protecting your rights and in getting you the justice that you deserve.

If someone you love was seriously hurt or killed in an accident, you may be unsure of where to turn. The attorneys of Williams Hart have experience helping people through the aftermath of catastrophic accidents, and we can help you too. Contact our law firm at (800) 220-9341 to speak with an experienced lawyer today.

Note: We report on the types of accidents and injuries our law firm has experience handling. Our hearts go out to victims of the accidents described on this blog, and we hope that future accidents, injuries, and deaths can be prevented. These posts are gathered from recent stories in the news. As new developments occur, these stories are often updated. If information contained within this article is false or outdated, please contact us so we can include the new information or make a correction.

Disclaimer: Williams Hart hopes that by showing how often catastrophic accidents occur, we can begin a conversation about how to reduce or prevent them. We sincerely hope that the articles on our blog arm readers with the information needed to avoid being involved in such accidents. Content on this blog should not be construed as legal advice.


Deer Park — 6 Tanks Burn at Intercontinental Terminal Co. Facility

Posted on Monday, March 18th, 2019 at 9:59 pm    

A massive fire broke out at a chemical plant in Deer Park, Texas on Sunday, March 17, 2019, and it is still burning more than 24 hours after it started.

According to police reports, the fire started at around 10:30 a.m. in the Intercontinental Terminal Co. facility with two tanks, and the fire spread to an additional five tanks by Monday morning. Officials reported on Monday afternoon that the number of tanks burning was down to six, and three of those are starting to settle down.

No one has been reported to be injured in this accident. However, the air has been rigidly monitored considering that the tanks that are on fire contain toluene, naphtha, and xylene which means that low levels of particulate matter have been detected in the air. Exposure to these chemicals may trigger some symptoms to the civilians, such as coughing, difficulty in breathing, burning, irritation, and redness in the eyes, nose, and throat. Some people may also experience headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Civilians nearby are advised to be careful.

The fire still has not been completely extinguished, and an official said that it could take as long as two days before the fire is totally out.

It is unfortunate to hear of what happened to the facility in this accident. Alas, this is not an uncommon scenario in the United States. Fires in industrial or manufacturing properties are common occurrences in the country. In fact, between 2011 and 2015, municipal fire departments in the U.S. reported that an estimated average of 37,910 fires at industrial or manufacturing properties happen each year, with annual losses from these fires estimated at 16 civilian deaths, 273 civilian injuries, and $1.2 billion in direct property damage. Furthermore, structure fires accounted for 20% of the fires, 49% of civilian deaths, 80% of civilian injuries, and 67% of direct property damage.

Electrical distribution and lighting equipment is said to be the leading cause of structure fires in industrial properties, accounting for about 24% of the total. Meanwhile, heating is the leading cause of structure fires in manufacturing, accounting for 15% of the total.

Fires, especially in industrial or manufacturing properties, can be incredibly appalling in all aspects for the victims and their respective families. Thankfully, there are lawyers out there who specialize in accidents like this. So, if you are a victim of a fire accident, or you know someone who is, or you lost a loved one because of this, then please never hesitate to ask for help. Fire accident lawyers will be more than willing to help you in protecting your rights and in getting you the justice that you deserve.

If someone you love was seriously hurt or killed in an accident, you may be unsure of where to turn. The attorneys of Williams Hart have experience helping people through the aftermath of catastrophic accidents, and we can help you too. Contact our law firm at (800) 220-9341 to speak with an experienced lawyer today.

Note: We report on the types of accidents and injuries our law firm has experience handling. Our hearts go out to victims of the accidents described on this blog, and we hope that future accidents, injuries, and deaths can be prevented. These posts are gathered from recent stories in the news. As new developments occur, these stories are often updated. If information contained within this article is false or outdated, please contact us so we can include the new information or make a correction.

Disclaimer: Williams Hart hopes that by showing how often catastrophic accidents occur, we can begin a conversation about how to reduce or prevent them. We sincerely hope that the articles on our blog arm readers with the information needed to avoid being involved in such accidents. Content on this blog should not be construed as legal advice.


Natural gas plant workers evacuated after fire

Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2015 at 12:21 pm    

The Targa North Texas gas processing plant located about 40 miles west of Denton in Wise County caught fire yesterday morning at around 2:15 a.m. The Wise County Fire Marshal stated that three compressors and one other structure caught fire, but an official release from Targa explained that the plant itself was not caught up in the blaze. The release went on to say that the plant “was immediately shut down per our emergency procedures and all employees were safely evacuated.” No injuries were reported.

As the fire was still burning at 11:00 a.m., officials made the decision to let it burn itself out before allowing anyone to enter. When asked about this decision, Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard cited a lack of resources for taking on such a significant fire. Beard explained that the fire was too large to fight safely, and, after an explosion blew the roof off of the building in which the fire started, the structure would be deemed a total loss.

In addition to the employees at the facility, residents of ten homes within a mile and a half of the facility were evacuated. Officials stated that this was a precautionary measure, and the residents were allowed back into their homes at 8:30 a.m.

While the plant remains closed, Targa officials believe the fire will only affect operations for a few days. They hope to at least partially reopen Thursday afternoon.

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