Several residents in Deer Park seeking to file lawsuits following May 5 Shell plant fire

Nick Natario Image
Saturday, May 13, 2023
Chaotic moments revealed in 1st lawsuit stemming from Shell plant fire
Multiple agencies said the surrounding community was not at risk, but one neighbor told ABC13 that something wasn't right and is suffering from what felt like sinus headaches.

DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- After hearing a hiss, and seeing people run, some workers at last week's Shell plant fire in Deer Park believe they're lucky to be alive.

Investigators are still unsure what caused the massive fire at the Shell plant on May 5. The company said gas oil ignited, sending a gigantic dark plume into the air.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Fire reignites, air monitoring continues hours after Deer Park Shell facility fire extinguished

Later, contaminated liquids went into the Houston Ship Channel. Since then, the company, county, state, and federal governments have monitored the air and water.

Officials said the community has never been at risk, but Carolyn Castoreno, who lives near the plant, says she hasn't felt right.

"I'm the person who gives people headaches," Castoreno said. "I'm not the person who gets headaches. I've been having what feels like a sinus headache and that's not normal for me."

Castoreno hasn't filed a lawsuit, but ABC13 has learned that other neighbors are preparing too.

Benny Agosto Jr., Abraham Watkin's managing partner, said he has about 30 clients preparing to file a lawsuit, three of whom have already filed.

Agosto said three workers who were about a block from where the fire started suffered knee and back injuries.

"As they started getting away, then there was the ignition. They didn't see the ignition, they just heard it, the whoosh and the boom, and of course, now they're running for their lives," Agosto explained.

The attorney said they filed the lawsuit quickly to ask a judge to preserve evidence.

The cause of the fire is still unknown and investigators are unable to gain access near the site.

On its website, the company disclosed wildlife was impacted as an oiled turtle was found in a ditch.

WATCH: 'It doesn't look safe at all': Air quality concerns rise after Shell facility fire in Deer Park

Deer Park residents were unsettled by the chemicals released by a large fire that broke out at a Shell refinery along State Highway 225 on Friday.

The company originally said the Wildlife Center of Texas responded. ABC13 went to the center where employees tell us they were never called.

Shell then updated its website saying it was Wildlife Response Services, LLC. We reached out to the company, but have yet to receive a response.

It's better transparency that neighbors say they want after dealing with days of issues. "There's something in the air," Castoreno said. "I just don't know what's going on."

RELATED: Shell Deer Park fire: 9 contractors evaluated and released from hospital, company says

Shell sent ABC13 a statement regarding the lawsuit that reads:

"We are aware that a lawsuit against Shell USA, Inc. and Shell Chemical L.P. has been filed following the Shell Deer Park Chemicals Facility fire on May 5. A total of 15 contractors were taken to the hospital and released the same day after completing precautionary medical evaluations. Shell is committed to the safety and well-being of everyone at our facilities and the surrounding communities."

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