The Southeast Texas Record is reporting that multiple law firms in the Golden Triangle have filed lawsuits against TPC Group after their Port Neches plant exploded at about 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019, and again at about 2:00 that afternoon. The plant then burned until Saturday, November 30th, emitting large amounts of black smoke.
The initial explosion injured three workers in the plant and damaged numerous homes and other buildings in Port Neches. It was followed by an evacuation of approximately 50,000 people for about 48 hours from all of Port Neches and Groves, along with about half of Nederland and about a quarter of Port Arthur.
According to the report, class action lawsuits and temporary restraining orders have been filed by The Ferguson Law Firm, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, and Brent Coon & Associates, all in Beaumont.
Filing for a temporary restraining order means that attorneys are asking the court to order the company to preserve all evidence related to the explosion and fire. In a press release, attorney Brent Coon said “Our first goal is to preserve evidence and initiate our own independent investigation of what transpired”.
According to Coon, major accidents like this in the petrochemical industry are usually not the fault of the workers, but rather those higher up the ladder. Coon said “Internal company investigations are usually self-serving and protective in nature and thus inherently unreliable, typically pointing the finger at low level employees when the incidents are most often caused by management driven shortcuts, process safety management shortcomings, obsolete and antiquated equipment, and lack of adequate monitoring and warning systems”.
Coon went on to say “Once again we have another major explosion in another petro-chemical plant. It has sadly become almost epidemic. Most plants are allowed to self-police health and safety issues with minimal state or federal oversight. It is time for the government to step in and heighten the level of scrutiny of these facilities”.