On Saturday, July 15, 2023, an explosion occurred at Dow Chemical in Iberville Parish. The blast shook homes miles away and left residents sheltering in place with their air conditioners off. Fortunately, in this case, no injuries were reported.

However, when chemical plant fires and explosions occur, it puts workers and surrounding communities in danger. Keep reading as we discuss chemical plant fire causes and when you should contact an attorney.

What Causes Chemical Plant Fires and Explosions?

Chemical plant fires and explosions can be triggered by various factors, ranging from human error to equipment malfunctions. It’s not always one factor that causes a chemical plant explosion but a combination of things.

Some of the factors include the following.

Improper Maintenance of Machinery and Equipment

One of the most common causes of chemical plant fires and explosions is the failure to maintain machinery and equipment properly. This can include:

  • Not regularly inspecting and repairing machinery
  • Using outdated or faulty equipment
  • Not following maintenance procedures accurately

Human Error

Human error can include mistakes such as improper handling of chemicals or failure to follow safety protocols. It may also be due to long hours on the job, and elevated stress levels. Human error can also occur during maintenance or repairs, leading to industrial accidents that result in fires or explosions.

Equipment Malfunctions

Even with proper maintenance, equipment malfunctions can still occur due to a variety of issues. This can include the following:

  • Worn out parts
  • Electrical problems
  • Design flaws

Chemical Reactions

Chemical reactions that produce heat and energy are necessary for many industrial processes. However, if these reactions are not carefully controlled and monitored, they can become unstable. Chemical plants need to have adequate measures in place to prevent uncontrolled chemical reactions from occurring.

Leaks and Spills

If a leak or spill is not detected and contained promptly, it can lead to the buildup of flammable or explosive gases. This can result in an ignition source causing a fire or explosion.

Electrical Hazards

Many chemical plants use electrical equipment and wiring for their operations. If these electrical systems are not installed, maintained, and used correctly, they can become a fire hazard. Electrical malfunctions can also cause sparks or arcs that can ignite flammable materials.

Poor Training and Safety Protocols

Employees must be adequately trained in chemical plant safety protocols and procedures. Failure to do so can lead to accidents caused by improper handling of chemicals, not following safety protocols, or not responding correctly in emergencies.

What Are the Risks of Chemical Plant Fires and Explosions?

Chemical plant fires and explosions pose significant risks. They threaten the facilities’ workers, surrounding communities, and the environment.

Human Health Risks

Chemical plants handle and store large quantities of hazardous and toxic chemicals. In a fire or explosion, these chemicals can be released into the air, water, and soil, exposing workers and nearby residents to harmful toxins.

Fires and explosions at chemical plants can also cause severe burns and traumatic injuries to workers. These injuries can be life-threatening and may require extensive medical treatment.

Economic Risks

Fires and explosions at chemical plants can result in significant property damage. This includes damage to equipment, buildings, homes, and infrastructure. For the community, this may lead to expensive repairs. For the company, this can cause production delays or shutdowns, leading to financial losses for the company.

Additionally, a chemical plant fire or explosion can cause widespread environmental damage. This can result in costly cleanup efforts and potential liability lawsuits.

Community Risks

Chemical plant fires and explosions pose a significant risk to nearby communities. Depending on the chemicals involved and the severity of the incident, residents may be advised to evacuate or shelter in place to avoid exposure to toxic substances.

Large-scale evacuations may sometimes be necessary, disrupting people’s daily lives and causing emotional distress. The potential for long-term health effects from exposure to toxic chemicals is also a concern for nearby communities.

Who Is Liable if You’re Injured in a Chemical Plant Fire or Explosion?

Determining liability can be complex in the unfortunate event of being injured in a chemical plant fire or explosion. Various parties may share responsibility, including the plant owner, contractors, equipment manufacturers, and even regulatory agencies. The key is to identify who acted negligently or failed to adhere to safety standards leading up to the incident.

Plant owners must maintain a safe working environment for their employees and surrounding communities. They could be held liable if they neglected proper maintenance, training, or oversight that could have prevented the accident. Contractors involved in construction or maintenance at the plant may also bear responsibility if their work is substandard or deviates from industry regulations.

Equipment manufacturers might face scrutiny if faulty machinery or defective products contributed to the fire or explosion. Additionally, regulatory agencies could be implicated if they did not adequately enforce safety protocols within the plant.

When Should You Call an Attorney in Louisiana?

If you are involved in a chemical plant fire or explosion in Louisiana, seeking legal guidance may be crucial. An attorney with experience in industrial accidents can help navigate the complexities and protect your rights.

Whether you’re a worker injured on the job or a nearby resident affected by the incident, consulting with an experienced attorney can provide insight into your options for seeking compensation. These legal professionals should understand the specific regulations and liabilities that come into play when dealing with chemical plant accidents.

Timing is key when it comes to reaching out to an attorney. The sooner you seek legal counsel, the better your chance of preserving evidence and building a solid case. Waiting too long could jeopardize your ability to file a claim and receive adequate compensation for damages.

Find an Industrial Accident Attorney in Louisiana

Chemical plant fires and explosions can have devastating consequences. In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one is injured in a chemical plant fire or explosion, seeking legal guidance is essential to determine liability and seek compensation for damages.

The law firm of Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello has been fighting for the people of Louisiana for over 50 years. We’ll protect your interests so you can focus on recovery. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.