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Massive Explosion in Northeast Houston

An explosion at a utility, mining, and chemical plant early Friday morning has left 2 dead, one missing, and a mile wide swath of destruction to the surrounding area.

What We Know about the Explosion So Far

Houston authorities have reported that around 4:20 a.m. Friday, January 24, a powerful explosion occurred at the manufacturing plant Watson Grinding and Manufacturing located on Gessner Road. The blast leveled or destroyed much of the plant itself, and many homes of those “blown awake” by the shockwave sustained significant damage, including collapsed roofs and blown-out windows as far as a half-mile away.

In the aftermath of the accident, Houston officials are urging people to avoid the area as a cleanup process gets underway. The explosion resulted from a propylene leak, a component that creates durable lightweight plastic that is used in automotive and appliance manufacturing as well as packaging and labeling. Short-term exposure to the gas in high concentration decreases your oxygen levels and can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, and fainting.

Houston Police spoke to reporters Friday afternoon calling the area surrounding the plant “in essence a disaster area”. The propylene leak has been secured without issue, but there is reportedly still a small fire burning.

What We Know about Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, the Owners of the Plant

The company that owns the site, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, has a checkered past when it comes to safety regulations. In regards to the specific chemical involved, propylene, the company may not be in compliance with rules put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

According to federal environmental regulations, if a company has more than 10,000 pounds of propylene, it is required to file a Risk Management Plan (RMP) with the EPA. Watson does not have an RMP on file. Companies with more than 10,000 pounds of the hazardous chemical must also include it in their Tier II chemical inventory, information that is then shared with the state, local emergency planning committees, and local fire departments.

As of their 2015 inventory, Watson has not included propylene in these lists. The company was also fined in 2013 for improper control of hazardous energy, rules which would likely cover the handling of propylene, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Be Prepared to Seek Legal Counsel

As the dust from this explosion settles, you may feel overwhelmed at the idea of seeking legal compensation for your damages. It may seem as though working with Watson’s insurance claims adjusters is the simplest choice, but there are some big drawbacks to this option. 

By choosing this option, you are waiving your right to seek compensation through a personal injury claim for any personal injuries or property damage you may have sustained. If you’ve decided that working with claims adjusters isn’t your best option, you may be considering joining a class-action lawsuit instead. However, by joining a suit rather than pursuing compensation for your individual claim, you may wind up settling with hundreds of others.

At our primary location in Edinburg, the South Texas personal injury attorneys of De la Garza Law Firm pride themselves on their dedication to treating clients like people rather than numbers, giving them the individualized care and compensation they deserve.

An experienced injury attorney like Rafael De la Garza can assist victims of this accident with recovering temporary living expenses, property damage expenses, personal injury damages, lost wages, or business interruption damages. Our law firm has served the hard-working people of Texas for years, helping those who have been put in danger due to the negligence of others.

If you or a loved one have been affected by the explosion at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing facility, contact us to schedule a FREE legal consultation at (956) 533-1426 today.

Source: KXAN, Vice, Houston Chronicle, ABC News