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Lance Rubin
Lance Rubin
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British Petroleum to be Fined for Explosion

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The 2005 explosion at British Petroleum’s Texas City plant killed 15 people and injured more than 170 others. Civil suits filed by the injured people and the families of those killed have been mostly resolved, but BP is being fined for its wrongdoing.

The explosion at the Texas City plant about 40 miles southeast of Houston occurred after a piece of equipment called a blowdown drum overfilled with highly flammable liquid hydrocarbons.

The excess liquid and vapor hydrocarbons then were vented from the drum and ignited as the isomerization unit — a device that boosts the octane in gasoline — started up. Alarms and gauges that were supposed to warn of the overfilled equipment did not work properly.

Though the fines that BP must pay could be up to $3.2 billion dollars, BP and prosecutors are trying to cut a deal whereby BP would only pay $50 million in fines. That sounds like a lot, but not when you compare it to the billions of dollars in profit BP makes every year. This sweetheart deal benefits nobody but BP.

Over 4,000 suits were filed against BP for injuries that occurred after the explosion. About half have been resolved to date.

After a refinery explosion or burst pipe, it’s not only those who were directly injured that may have claims. Toxic chemicals are often released in a “plume” of hazardous gasses that can affect those who were near the refinery at the time. People who inhale these toxic fumes often develop lung or other respiratory problems, asthma, headaches, watery eyes and other symptoms.

Kiesel Boucher Larson has experience suing refineries for personal injuries that occur after explosions or pipe ruptures. The firm was successful in bringing claims for hundreds of injured people against ARCO, Tosco and Unocal.