Due to the nature of the oil and gas industry, refinery accidents often involve serious injuries to workers and even sometimes to the general public. These accidents could also involve peripheral damages to the community such as unhealthy air days or even weeks after the accident.
One accident near Houston in 2021 shows some of the complications arising from a large refinery fire.
Baytown oil refinery fire in 2021
NBC News reported on an ExxonMobil refinery fire in December 2021 that injured several people. Described as a major industrial accident, the event happened about 25 miles east of Houston. Air ambulances rushed at least three people to a nearby hospital on the night of the fire.
Reports suggest a ground ambulance transported the fourth victim to the hospital. Several hours after the incident a company spokesperson said the victims remained in stable condition. The spokesperson said that the company accounted for all other personnel at the large refinery and did not expect further injuries.
The company did not confirm an explosion took place but said that officials would undertake a complete investigation of what happened. Community members reported events consistent with a large explosion.
2019 refinery fire and explosion
The news reported that a similar accident occurred at the same plant in 2019. That event required that more than 60 people receive medical attention, and community members had to shelter-in-place for a period of time.
Those living nearby expressed concern that air quality posed a danger to public health as the refinery fires continued to burn for days afterward. In one case, the county sued ExxonMobil for Clean Air Act violations.
Oil refinery fires can lead to serious injuries and illnesses and even death for employees and members of the nearby public. Those impacted may have options to seek compensation.