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Around 4:20 AM Friday morning, a manufacturing plant exploded in Northwest Houston, with authorities reporting two people killed from the blast. Nearly every house in the region sustained significant property damage, including blown-out windows and collapsed roofs up to half a mile away.

Details on the Accident

Houston authorities have confirmed that the explosion happened at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing. The company’s website says that they provide machining, grinding, lapping, and thermal spray coatings to customers. It claims to specialize in the turning and milling of exotic alloys, tough metals, and large parts.

Authorities don’t have a reason to believe the blast was caused on purpose, but a criminal investigation will still occur. According to the Houston Chronicle, Houston fire officials mentioned that the chemical involved in the explosion was propylene.

Propylene is a hazardous chemical covered by several federal, environmental, and worker safety regulations, and it is normally used to create polypropylene, a durable plastic found in many household products, toys, and automotive parts. It is also a type of fuel used in small to large facilities.

If a company allows propylene to pollute the air, it is required to disclose the release of the chemical to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxic Release Inventory. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also lists propylene as a hazardous material, and many worker safety regulations in storing and managing propylene and other liquefied petroleum gases are set in place to ensure people’s safety.

A Company That Failed to Comply With Environmental Regulations

If a company has more than 10,000 pounds of propylene, it is mandatory for them to file a Risk Management Plan (RMP) with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Watson Grinding and Manufacturing does not have an RMP on file.
Based on the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, companies that have more than 10,000 pounds of propylene must include it in its Tier II chemical inventory. Companies are obligated to list those inventories to the state, its local emergency planning committee, and the local fire department. In its 2015 inventory, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing failed to mention propylene as part of their inventories. It only listed liquefied oxygen.
It is suspected that the OSHA regulations and standards for propylene weren’t taken into consideration for what happened at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing. In 2013, the company was fined for failing to properly control high-risk energy. Propylene was most likely covered by those rules.
At 9:30 am, the Houston Fire Department said 2,000-gallon tank of propylene gas that was leaking at the blast site was secured.

Legal Representation at the Ready

While the blast is still being investigated, now is the time to act in order to get compensated for your damaged property or personal injury. Though a class-action lawsuit may seem like the better alternative to receiving the compensation you need to properly recover, by joining one, you may be settling your claim with hundreds of others, effectively gaining much less in financial relief needed to pay off any debts that occurred through no fault of your own.

At the same time, victims of workplace explosions also deserve compensation. While depending on workers’ compensation may get you some of the financial relief you need, if your employer lacks a policy–or denies your workers’ compensation claim–you are left with few options. Should this happen, contact an industrial accident attorney from Lapeze & Johns immediately.

We offer legal assistance to all victims of workplace explosions that need recovery for temporary living expenses, the costs of property damage, personal injury damages, lost wages, or business interruption damages. Our law firm prides itself on our years of representing hard-working Texans that have suffered as a result of the negligence of others.

If you or someone you know has been affected by the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing facility explosion in Houston, do not hesitate to contact us now at 713.766.0075 to schedule a FREE legal consultation.

Source: Houston Chronicle, ABC News, KXAN