The Worst Industrial Explosion in Texas History

On April 17, 2013, a fertilizer plant exploded in West, Texas. At least 15 people are presumed to be deceased, but over 160 others were injured in the chemical plant accident. The area around the plant was also detrimentally affected; an apartment complex close by was completely devastated. Houses within five to six blocks of the plant were severely damaged, and a middle school in the area was also destroyed. Ammonium nitrate was one of the chemicals used at this fertilizer plant, and it was one of the reasons that investigators could not immediately enter the premises and perform an investigation. A Chemical Plant Explosion in Texas City The explosion in West, Texas inspired memories of another petrochemical plant explosion. The Texas City industrial explosion happened 66 years ago practically to the day that the explosion in West, Texas occurred. On April 16, 1947, a French ship that was being loaded with ammonium nitrate exploded. As a result, this disaster made it into the history books as one of the most devastating industrial accidents in the United States. Like with the chemical plant explosion in West, the Texas City industrial explosion greatly affected a large portion of the surrounding area. About 75 homes were destroyed in the West, Texas explosion, but in 1947, approximately 1,000 of the city’s structures were either leveled to the ground or severely damaged. Windows were even broken in Houston, Texas, a city that is 40 miles away from Texas City. Residents of Louisiana 250 miles away reported feeling the blast, and it even caused a 15-foot tidal wave to develop. The fire department received devastating losses while desperately trying to fight the fire. It killed 28 firefighters, but it also managed to destroy every piece of equipment that the fire department owned. Loss of Life The cost in human life was also much greater in the Texas City industrial explosion. Officials have only been able to account for 576 deaths, but it is believed that many more people died in this explosion. No one will ever know exactly how many people perished on this day because there were several transient employees and foreign sailors working that day on the French ship. The fact that some bodies were mutilated beyond recognition also made it impossible to identify these individuals. The Aftermath Because of the Texas City industrial explosion, people learned how to handle dangerous chemicals in a safer manner. They also discovered new ways to store those chemicals so that explosions could be prevented in the future. Previously unaware of how perilous ammonium nitrate could be, this explosion made it painfully clear that this substance is, in fact, extremely dangerous. Because of the petrochemical plant explosion in Texas City, the entire industry is safer as a result. After the explosion, the petrochemical industry continued to thrive in Texas City, so the community was able to recover from this tragedy. The city’s financial outlook is strong, and the population has grown to over 45,000. The citizens have overcome this disaster, but they continue to be affected by it 66 years later. Contacting a Refinery Explosion Attorney Although people have learned from chemical plant explosions in the past, this obviously is not enough to prevent them from ever happening in the future. Unfortunately, these explosions do occur, and workers at chemical plants as well as those who live and work around them can be hurt. When this happens, you need someone who can protect your rights against the chemical plant owners, and the person for this job is a knowledgeable refinery explosion attorney. If you have been injured in a petrochemical explosion, contact a Texas City industrial explosion lawyer today to discuss your case.