On August 21, 2020 at around 8:00 am fire crews were dispatched to a powerful explosion that rocked the Port of Corpus Christi and refinery row. The explosion occurred when the Waymon L. Boyd dredging vessel struck a propane pipeline under water, sending flames and plumes of black smoke in the air. It was reported that 18 people, including crewmembers, were working in the general area at the time of the explosion. Initial reports stated that six people were hospitalized after the explosion; 5 people were airlifted to San Antonio to treat for severe burns and one person was taken to a local hospital and was reported to have been released the same day. 4 crew members died as a result of the explosion.
Why Do Gas Explosions Happen?
Explosions similar to the Corpus Christi dredging explosion always bring up a principle that is key in the offshore industry— “all accidents are preventable.” Unfortunately, many companies do not subscribe to this principle as they place profits over safety and take very risky shortcuts that can permanently impact the lives of its workers. Many common causes for offshore explosions or serious work-site injuries are:
- Inadequate employee training
- Inadequate supervision
- Negligent hiring
- Performing work in areas where all known dangers have not been discovered or marked
- Failure to warn workers of all hazards and risks
- Failure to maintain all equipment in good repair
- Failure to provide and/or use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Does The Jones Act Cover The Workers Who Were Killed Or Injured In The Corpus Christi Dredging Explosion?
Yes. The Jones Act is based on US Federal law that ensures compensation to seamen  or family members of a seamen who were killed or severely injured while working offshore on a vessel. Recovery for injury to or death of a person falls under Title 46 U.S.C. § 688(a), which states:
“Any seaman who shall suffer personal injury in the course of his employment may, at his election, maintain an action for damages . . . [O]f personal injury . . . [I]n case of the death of any seaman as a result of any such personal injury . . . .”
In an offshore case, there are typically many different companies that may be responsible for the injuries or loss to a loved one. Currently, the name of the dredge’s owner in the Corpus Christi explosion has been disclosed—Orion Marine Group. It is likely that more names will be revealed. Claims and/or lawsuits against sophisticated oilfield companies are very unique given the extensive investigations, fact-finding, and evidentiary aspects that follow.
People affected by an explosion, such as the Corpus Christi Explosion, should not attempt to fight these companies alone. The Jones Act attorneys at Morrow & Sheppard possess the requisite experience, training, and resources to help family members who have seen a loved one get severely injured or killed.