“It’s a warzone over here,” said Mark Brady to local news station KPRC, who lives in a neighborhood near the site where an early morning explosion in northwest Houston literally rocked the foundations of the surrounding area. Two fatalities have been accounted for, with the possibility that the number could increase as search crews are still underway for any more victims.
The identification of the two deceased has still not been released, but reports from the owner of the business where the explosion took place, state that all employees but two have been accounted for. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo also stated that one of the victims has a 21-year-old son who is in the Marines and is currently deployed overseas.
A secondary search is currently underway and includes cadaver dogs being used to search nearly 200 of the surrounding homes. Crews were also reported to be checking on the stability of the surrounding structures, as Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Pena reported to local news that some homes were literally knocked off their foundations due to the force of the explosion.
At approximately 4:30 in the morning on January 24, 2020, an explosion at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, located at 4525 Gessner Road, Houston, Texas rocked the surrounding area and threw debris at least up to a quarter mile from the blast site. “It knocked us all out of our bed, it was so strong,” said Mr. Brady. “It busted out every window in our house. It busted everybody’s garage door in around here…and closer toward the explosion over here, it busted people’s roofs in and walls in,” Mr. Brady continued. The surrounding neighborhoods of Westbranch and Cloverdale were closed to everyone but residents, and extra patrols were being dispatched to the area to control any possible threat of looting.
Although Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo was clear in stating that there was still at this time no evidence of terrorism involved, nor any evidence that the blast was the cause of some intentional act, he did state that as the investigation continued to unfold, its possible that a determination of negligence causing the explosion could result in criminal charges being filed.
What is Known About the Blast
Reports have stated that the chemical involved in the blast was propylene. Fire Chief Samuel Pena stated that HAZMAT crews have already gone in to secure a leaking propylene valve, which chemical dissipates in the air. This valve was connected to a 2000–gallon tank of propylene. Fire Chief Pena also stated that there were still some small fires but that they were contained. According to Fire Chief Pena, it has been decided that they will allow these minor fires to burn themselves out, so as not to add water to the area and create other hazards, before they go in and investigate the immediate area.
Propylene is a hazardous chemical and as such is subject to federal environmental and worker safety regulations. Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, a company with more than 10,000 pounds of propylene must file a Risk Management Plan with the Environmental Protection Agency as well as include it in its Tier II chemical inventory. According to reports by the Houston Chronicle, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing did not include propylene in its Risk Management Plan nor in its Tier II chemical inventory from 2015. Additionally, it was reported that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company in 2013 for failing to properly control hazardous energy.
What Can an Experienced Industrial Accident Lawyer Do for You if You Are Injured by an Explosion?
Our top-rated plant explosion lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard LLP have experience investigating negligent companies and the causes of incidents such as the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing Plant Explosion.
If you or a loved one was hurt in connection with the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing Plant Explosion or in any other type of explosion accident, call us for a free, confidential consultation at 800-489-2216. Experienced lawyers can help you navigate extensive investigations, explain how the legal process works, and protect and preserve your rights to recovery for injuries sustained on the job or otherwise.
Injured people deserve compensation from negligent companies. Safety should always be the primary concern when operating with hazardous materials and dangerous equipment, and the common thread in most every explosion is a mistake or sacrifice of safety procedure.
You do not have to fight for compensation alone. Contact Morrow & Sheppard LLP to guide you in the right direction.