Injured worker files first lawsuit against Pasadena plant after explosion, claiming negligence

On March 22, a fireball explosion was caught on camera at INEOS Phenol that left 1 worker hospitalized after a tanker leak

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Monday, April 10, 2023
Pasadena explosion was caused by accidental tanker leak, officials say
Officials said the explosion was triggered as liquified petroleum gas was being transferred from one tanker to another through a hose, and the first tanker had an unintentional leak.

PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) -- A worker injured after an explosion at the INEOS plant in Pasadena, Texas, has filed the first lawsuit stemming from the event, according to court documents.

The video above is from the initial report on the explosion.

The lawsuit claims gross negligence and is seeking punitive damages on behalf of the plant during the explosion that left one person hospitalized.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Crews extinguish massive fire after 'bleve explosion' reported at Pasadena chemical plant

Arturo Jimenez says he was at the plant when the explosion threw him onto the ground. The lawsuit states that Jimenez and his coworkers "immediately attempted to evacuate but realized they were trapped due to various exits not being opened."

On March 22, Houston TranStar cameras caught the explosion at 3503 Pasadena Freeway at about 12:07 p.m.

Houston Transtar cameras captured a large explosion at the plant, located at 3503 Pasadena Freeway, around 12:07 p.m.

The explosion was described as a "bleve explosion" by Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia.

In an update, the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office Chief Investigator Mitchell Weston expanded on the reason. A tanker carrying liquid petroleum gas was transferring the chemical to storage through a hose.

As a result, something went askew, causing the blast. Investigators later determined that during the transfer of the chemical, a leak occurred in one of the tankers.

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia and other officials gave an afternoon update following the explosion at the Pasadena plant.

According to the suit, following the initial blast, "subsequent explosions" made Jimenez subject to additional shock waves and significant heat.

Attorney Kurt Arnold, who is representing Jimenez, says this happens too frequently in the community and traumatizes workers.

"There are far too many explosions in our community. Chemical plant explosions are frequently mass casualty events, and injuries incurred during the initial blast are often exacerbated as workers flee the facility," Arnold said. " Escaping a chemical plant fire is a traumatic experience because everyone is afraid of a secondary explosion."

Arnold's firm, Arnold & Itkin, has represented hundreds of workers that have been injured in explosions similar to Pasadena, including the April 2022 Valero explosion in Meraux, LA; the December 2021 Exxon Mobil explosion in Baytown, TX; the February 2021 Air Liquide explosion in Pasadena, TX; the April 2019 KMCO explosion in Crosby, TX and the 2018 Kuraray explosion in Pasadena, TX.

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"In each chemical plant explosion we've investigated, we have discovered that management ignored fundamental safety protocols, which created the opportunity for the disaster. Chemical plant explosions are preventable if owners and operators would choose to put safety first and prioritize their workers' lives over profits," Arnold explained.

A survey of chemical explosions since 2013 shows an increase in the number of Gulf Coast plant fires and explosions starting in 2018.

"Chemical plants should be getting safer with improvements in technology, but instead, we're seeing more catastrophic incidents than ever," Arnold said.

Our partners at the Houston Chronicle reached out to INEOS last Friday, but the company was not immediately available for comment.