Common Causes of Oil Refinery Explosions

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Oil refinery explosions can leave victims facing injury, disability, disfigurement, high medical bills, and lost wages. A refinery explosion lawyer can help victims and their families pursue the compensation they deserve for their losses.

The oil business is vital to Houston’s economy and that of Texas as a whole. Early this year, The Houston Chronicle reported that “the oil and gas production sector employed 181,900 people in Texas.” Even so, oil and gas production is hazardous by its nature.

Flammable gases and harsh chemicals are par for the course in refinery work, making it a dangerous business that can lead to injury, illness, and even death. The most fearsome of oil refinery accidents is the explosion, yet, most explosions are preventable when companies follow federal safety regulations.

When companies put their workers above the bottom line, severe injuries and deaths should decrease. However, until workers are the priority, we need to review the common causes of refinery explosions in order to learn from and avoid situations that could result in a deadly blast.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an oil refinery explosion, you may want to contact a refinery explosion lawyer to see if you are entitled to benefits and compensation. Call Patrick Daniel Law today at (713) 999-6666 for a FREE case review.

What Are the Common Causes of Refinery Explosions?

There is a danger of explosion when working with hazardous chemicals. As such, every precaution must be taken to protect workers. Understanding the common causes of refinery explosions helps workers, supervisors, and government agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) refine their practices and safety procedures to prevent future incidents.

Explosions inside oil and gas facilities may be the result of:

Safety Violations

An overarching issue when it comes to oil refinery explosions is safety violations. OSHA sets out clear safety and health requirements, issues citations, collects fines, and penalizes companies that fail to adhere. However, to save time and money, corners are still cut that can endanger workers’ lives.

Human Error

Human error is often the impetus for disastrous accidents. A substandard safety program, negligent supervision of workers, lack of proper employee training, shortcuts in equipment maintenance, or even the lighting of a cigarette could all be the culprits of the next explosion. Yet, with diligent management and consistent training, the margin of human error narrows.

Poor Maintenance

The maintenance of equipment and materials (boilers, pipes, pumps, tanks, etc.) used in an oil refinery is critical to avoiding costly catastrophes. Though explosions result from many factors, improper maintenance is frequently one of them. Routine maintenance programs and inspections need to be carried out by skilled workers and overseen by specialized management. Though costly and time-consuming, the consequences of poor maintenance are exponentially more significant.

Another aspect of maintenance is the detection of corrosion in the many metal parts used in refinery equipment and machinery. If left unchecked, corrosion and metal fatigue can lead to leaks, failures, and, in extreme cases, explosions. Though monitoring corrosion is costly, it is a fraction of the cost of rebuilding a refinery, putting hundreds of employees out of work, and the injuries and deaths that an explosion could cause.

Defective Equipment

Defective equipment can be undetectable. Faulty design, poor construction, and flaws that start at the manufacturer’s level may cause unavoidable disasters.

Proper maintenance and inspection could possibly have a hand in discovering defects before they become a problem. However, negligence on the part of an individual employee or the company as a whole can contribute to an issue if the equipment is misused, fixed with non-standard parts, or operated past its capacity.

Improperly Stored Chemicals

Refineries use volatile chemicals to purify extracted oil. These chemicals must be properly stored. If they were to leak from their storage containers or become exposed to extreme temperature changes or moisture, they could cause explosions. Illness due to inhalation of the chemicals and other injuries resulting from this type of accident can be detrimental and far-reaching.

Consequences of an Oil Refinery Explosion

The consequences of an oil refinery explosion are costly. First and foremost, worker injuries and deaths are immense and terrible. The damage to the surrounding area must also be taken into account, as well as the cost of rebuilding a damaged refinery. Finally, the price at the gas pump could rise quickly and steeply.


Common injuries as a result of an oil refinery explosion are:

A refinery explosion lawyer can evaluate your injuries after the accident and determine what legal recourse you may have. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation as well as recovery of damages through a third-party claim.

Property Damage

It is also important to acknowledge the  damage from an oil refinery explosion to the surrounding community. Explosions and fires could result in the evacuation of nearby neighborhoods, property damage to homes and businesses, and possible releases of volatile chemicals into the air surrounding the facility.


The cost of rebuilding an oil refinery after an explosion is astronomical. For instance, The Star Tribune reports that an oil refinery in Superior, Wisconsin, damaged in a 2018 explosion and fire will cost $1.2 billion to rebuild.

Gas Prices

Gas prices are known to skyrocket after an oil source is out of commission due to an explosion. The Daily Breeze reported that following a 2015 explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California, motorists paid “at least $2.4 billion in higher pump prices in the following six months.”

Contact a Texas Refinery Explosion Lawyer Today

An oil refinery explosion can substantially impact workers, their loved ones, and the surrounding community. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a refinery accident in Houston or greater Texas, call Patrick Daniel Law at (713) 999-6666 to get a FREE case review with an experienced refinery explosion lawyer.

You might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you or a member of your family was harmed in a refinery explosion. You may also be able to sue for losses if there was negligence on the part of the company, an equipment manufacturer, or subcontractor.

Oil companies will try anything to get out of paying what is rightfully yours, so hiring a skilled attorney is in your best interest. If you’re unsure where to turn, Patrick Daniel Law is here to assist you in your time of need.

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