History of Exxon Mobil Industrial Explosions and Accidents

The ExxonMobil refinery in Beaumont, Texas experienced a tragedy on April 17 of this year. The petrochemical plant explosion caused 12 workers to be sent to the hospital. Since then, one worker has died. At the time of the chemical plant explosion, the area in occurred was under routine maintenance. However, United Steelworkers stated that this type of activity needs to occur on a much more frequent basis. Currently, refineries in Texas schedule maintenance to be performed once every four or five years. According to the union, worker safety requires that refineries begin to do so more often. The contract workers who were performing maintenance at the Beaumont refinery were employees for three different companies. The three companies are KT Maintenance, Signature Industrial Services, and Brock Services, LLC. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there had never been a safety issue with regard to these three companies. For now, it will be up to ExxonMobil to determine the cause of the industrial plant explosion. A Dangerous Release of Pollutants into the Air ExxonMobil is not a stranger to chemical plant accidents. In October of 2011, the same refinery in Beaumont, Texas experienced a malfunction that caused 43,661 pounds of pollutants to be released into the air. One of the pollutants was a toxic gas, sulfur dioxide. A Possible Strike Workers in Baytown, Texas, where the largest petrochemical and petroleum site is located, may commence a strike on June 15, 2013 if the ExxonMobil chemical plant and the local steelworker’s union cannot come to an agreement on new safety regulations. Representatives of the union sought to improve health and safety conditions at the plant earlier this year, but they met with resistance from the company. If they cannot reach an agreement by the deadline of June 15, 2013 workers may have no choice but to strike. A Steam-Vent Accident in 2011 In June of 2011, a worker received steam burns in a steam-vent accident at the aforementioned petrochemical and petroleum complex in Baytown, Texas. The worker was taken to the hospital with burns that covered 25 percent of his body. At the time, a representative from the local steelworker’s union stated that ExxonMobil was not doing enough to keep workers safe at the industrial plant and that management needed to make improvements. Toxic Emissions in 2012 Baytown’s problems did not end with the steam-vent accident. The petrochemical and petroleum complex had another chemical plant accident in September of 2012. This time, a leak from a heat exchanger tube caused several pounds of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide to be released into the atmosphere for several days. These emissions can be dangerous for everyone, but they are especially toxic for those suffering from asthma, children, and the elderly. A Pending Lawsuit At that time in September, Environment Texas and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the ExxonMobil refinery in Baytown. The environmental groups accused ExxonMobil of being in violation of the Clean Air Act. The groups listed over 1,000 incidents in which ExxonMobil allegedly violated the Clean Air Act over the past five years. ExxonMobil’s attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed was unsuccessful, and the judge ordered the lawsuit to proceed. ExxonMobil has been the subject of similar refinery explosion attorney lawsuits in the past, and was on the losing side. In 2009, the company was ordered to pay Maryland residents $150 million in compensation for an oil spill that occurred in 2006. The accidents in just ExxonMobil refineries are numerous, but cities like Baytown have several refineries by different companies. More chemical plant accidents can be expected in the future if companies like ExxonMobil continue to refuse to improve health and safety standards. Workers at these plants and residents in the surrounding areas can be affected equally, and they both would be entitled to monetary compensation.