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Massive Gas Line Explosion Rocks San Francisco

Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2019 at 9:57 am    

A San Francisco gas line exploded around 1 p.m. yesterday afternoon in the Jordan Park neighborhood, swallowing the Hong Kong Lounge II restaurant and its upstairs units in flames. The spokesman for the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) said multiple people were rescued during the incident. As of 3:35 p.m., the fire was out, though firefighters were still working on making sure the area was free from any secondary flashes.

The blaze from the gas line caused a column of fire that reached higher than the neighborhood’s buildings. While it burned, the SFFD worked to evacuate the area and San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White noted that firefighters had to surround and douse the fire the best they could until Pacific Gas & Electric, the major energy company in Northern California, shut off the gas line. It took around two-and-a-half hours for PG&E to finally shut down the line.

By the time all the flames had been put out, four buildings had been affected.

Although cutting the line to the area affected the gas of over 300 people and electricity to over 2,500, PG&E considered shutting down a much bigger gas line, which would have made the gas outage cover the entire city.

Image via San Francisco Fire Department/Twitter

Stopping the Fire

To access the line to stop the flow of gas, PG&E crew were forced to dig underground. The company’s spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin said they were able to stop the flow by pinching a 4-inch plastic gas line while also using a manual shut off.

Thankfully, there were no fatalities or injuries resulting from the blast and blaze, which is an even more remarkable feat when looking at the extensive damage done to the structure. While there was a moment of apprehension while looking for five missing workers, they were later found safe.

At this time, it is believed that the incident was caused by workers using a backhoe in front of the restaurant. While installing fiber optic cables for a nearby business, they apparently cut a natural gas line, resulting in the explosion.

Gas Line Explosions in the U.S.

While the exceptional emergency response to the San Francisco gas line explosion led to an astounding zero injuries or death, many involved in similar incidents around the country have not been so lucky.

In September of 2018, northern Massachusetts had a reported 50 homes catch fire from individual explosions covering three cities. Investigators to this event said that Columbia Gas didn’t tell workers to take pressure sensors offline before removing an old gas main from the system. That resulted in the sensors noticing the pressure drop, which told the system to increase pressure to the gas line. Mere moments after this occurrence, homes in North Andover, Andover, and Lawrence started exploding from the increased force in the pipes. One of the blasts caused a chimney to fall on top of an occupied vehicle, killing the driver. The Massachusetts explosions caused twenty-one injuries, two of which were firefighters.

On March 12, 2014, East Harlem shook shook when a gas explosion took down two five-story apartment buildings. A gas leak was identified as the cause of this blast. Eight people died, dozens were injured, and at least 100 families were displaced.

While incidents such as these used to demand much more attention from the news, gas line and gas pipeline accidents have become far more common in the U.S. since the early 2000’s. Rural, metropolitan, and suburban areas are all at risk from any number of errors caused by gas and energy distribution. These have lead to extensive deaths, injuries, and property damage across the country, and there may be little to slow down these occurrences as our culture becomes increasingly dependent on gas, oil, natural gas, electricity, and other forms of energy.

Seeking Legal Counsel for Compensation After a Gas Explosion

If you were injured in a gas explosion or fire, or a loved one was hurt or died in one, you may be offered a settlement by the company at fault for your pain and suffering. However, settlement amounts are determined by insurance companies, corporate lawyers, and their clients. Their best interest is rarely to ever fully rectify a situation. Instead, they are looking at their bottom line. And once someone accepts a settlement like this, they are also forced into waiving their rights to ever sue the company again should any long-term injuries or complications arise.

With over three decades of experience in cases involving workplace accidents, personal injuries, wrongful death, and serious explosions, the attorneys at Williams Hart will fight for your rights as the injured or bereaved to help you receive full compensation.

Contact us today to set up a free consultation where we will discuss the specifics of your case and determine your best course of action.  Call (713) 230-2200.  

 


Fatal Accident Claims A Colorado Man In Oklahoma Drilling Explosion Adding To Its Deadly History

Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2019 at 12:04 pm    

oklahoma drilling explosion killed a colorado man

Photo via Tulsa’s KOTV/NewsOn6.com

With as many as 60 workers being killed in Oklahoma while working on oil and gas drilling sites in just a five-year period, this latest incident adds fuel to this industry’s deadly history. The contractor alone Patterson-UTI has had an average of one worker a year has died over the last decade. This most recent incident was the worst in the States history with five workers instantly killed in an incident. More than 16 other workers were injured and one needed to be airlifted to a hospital by helicopter.

Patterson-UTI’s Safety Record According to OSHA

The company involved in running this rig has the worst safety record in the industry according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In fact, they have seen almost $400,000 in fines for safety violations over the last decade. Many of the more than 140 safety violations that they have been charged with were considered serious. According to company officials, however, Patterson-UTI has vigorously worked to improve its operations along with training and implementing safety practices.

Worst Safety Record In Industry History

The company says that they have quite literally invested millions of dollars to raise their level of training as well as providing protective equipment and instilling a culture of safety among its employees. Even if this is a fact, according to data from OSHA this company is one of the country’s worst violators of safety laws in the workplace.

Oklahoma is not the only state where this company has had a slew of on-site deaths occur. According to one report put out by a US Senate committee the company had 13 deaths occur with their employees in accidents on rigs located in the state of Texas. These deaths occurred over the course of only four years. That alone is a horrendous record.

Another report indicated that 20 employees of this company had died over a five-year period between the years 2002 and 2007. When compared to similar businesses, Patterson-UTI had more than four times the death rate. That is a difference that is very difficult to account for.

Both Federal And State Agencies Investigating The Explosion

This terrible explosion happened at a natural gas drilling rig located in Quinton which is approximately 100 miles Southeast of the City of Tulsa. Although it is still under investigation and no final determination as to its cause has been made, there is a preliminary report indicating that there was an uncontrolled release of gas that led to the explosion and broke out into a raging fire. One of the on-site workers attempted to engage a mechanism that would shut down the well but he was unsuccessful at doing so.

Investigators found the bodies of the five workers who were all located in a room commonly called the dog house. It was used as an office for the crew according to authorities. This incident is considered to be the most deadly since the industrial accident that occurred in 2002 in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers.

Oil And Gas Companies Are Inherently Careless On Safety

According to attorneys who specialize in catastrophic workplace accidents, work safety takes a second seat to production.  Employees will continue to be at risk of injury and death until safety regulations are enforced.Oil And Gas explosion accidents - Williams Hart lawyer

Inexperienced Workers are Sometimes Blamed For the Accidents

Industry experts say some companies have a difficult time maintaining qualified workers. For this reason, they end up hiring inexperienced workers. This inexperience makes accidents more prevalent.

Often new workers are not only unfamiliar with the safety protocols but also do not understand the common lingo for communicating on the rig. This can lead to fatal mistakes and serious accidents. Companies seriously need to implement substantial training programs that all new workers must complete successfully before working on a rig.

Losing a loved one or suffering a serious injury is devastating. Frequently, people do not want to seek legal help, but just talking with an attorney can help determine if you can get justice and compensation for you or a loved one who has been harmed in a workplace accident or explosion. Let the lawyers at Williams Hart get the justice that you deserve. Call us at (888) 220-0640 for a free consultation.  There is a never a charge unless we win financial awards on your behalf.


Fatal Explosion Leads to Texas Legislator Urging Pipeline Safety Measures

Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2019 at 7:11 am    

Texas Representative Rafael Anchia (D) has proposed new regulations that will increase oversight over gas pipeline safety. He argues the regulations he’s pushing would have kept an explosion that happened last year from killing a 12-year-old girl. Anchia has also noted that lobbyists are already making claims that the proposals aren’t any good.

A major component of the legislation he’s pushing includes a requirement that leaks be reported immediately to the public by gas companies. The primary means of reporting these leaks would be through a searchable map people can use to look up issues in their areas.

Anchias plan would also include replacing “rusted, corroded, or faulty pipes in the state of Texas and make sure that our infrastructure is at 21st century standards.”

When talking to local media channel KXAN, Anchia discussed what he would like the legislation to accomplish. He said, “So the bills fall into two buckets. We filed them this week. And one group of the bills deals with the Railroad Commission as an effective regulator. And the second group of bills deals with operators of natural gas pipelines to reduce the risk of explosions, like the one that happened in my district that killed the little 12-year-old girl, so that they don’t happen again.”

 

Better Gas Pipeline Monitoring and Commission Transparency

One interesting facet of his proposal is that it gives those who live near pipelines a better way to monitor for and report leaks. Rep. Anchia noted, “And those bills seek to increase transparency both at the Railroad Commission level and also among operators so that people can self-police in their neighborhoods, see if there are leaks in their neighborhoods, and report those immediately to the gas companies.”

He continued, “Even if we improve them, they just don’t have the budget to be everywhere at all times. So what we want to do is empower people in their communities, so that when they smell a gas leak or see one on an interactive map, they can immediately call the gas company, have them come, fix those leaks.”

 

Gas Pipeline Safety in Texas Can and Should be Better

Anchia is understandably upset by the girl’s death, especially if the explosion was as preventable as he believes it was. He said, “This little girl’s death could have been prevented. Regrettably, there were two explosions before her death that either went under reported or unreported to the authorities. There were no independent investigators on site. The reality is that if we have immediate action on the part of the regulator or the gas company, lives can be saved, and that’s what these bills seek to do.”

 

Roadblocks to Gas Pipeline Safety

Although Anchia is fighting for the safety of his constituents and residents all over Texas, he figures he will face staunch opposition from the gas and oil industries. When asked if he expected to experience any roadblocks to his proposals, he said, “Well, look, there are some very powerful forces that are going to seek to kill these bills.” However, if Anchia had it his way, he would “want to work with stakeholders across the board to make sure that [they] make good public policy that reduces the risk of these leaks and accidents [from] ever happening again, and we open our door to everyone.”

 

Fighting for Justice After a Gas Leak Injury or Death

For many in Texas, the additional oversight would be a welcome addition to the state’s laws. However, until they get implemented, assuming the laws ever do, the general public has no way of knowing when and where gas leaks and the danger they bring might happen. Because of that, there will continue to be explosions leading to injury and death. Many of them could be preventable, too.

If you or a loved one was hurt or worse in an incident involving a gas pipeline leak or explosion, seek professional legal assistance immediately. The companies controlling pipelines across Texas will do everything in their power to minimize their costs, and that will mean attempting to manipulate you and your family through a variety of methods.

The experienced attorneys and support staff at Williams Hart have helped clients fight gas pipeline injury and death cases for decades, and we will do the same for you. We’ll fight for justice on your behalf. Call us today at (713) 352-7071 for a free consultation to discuss your case.


Deadly Explosion in Oklahoma Under Investigation

Posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2019 at 9:11 am    

Patterson-UTI rig inspection after deadly explosion in Oklahoma

Photo via StateImpact Oklahoma

In southeastern Oklahoma about 100 miles , a natural gas drilling rig exploded and caught fire. This deadly explosion resulted in the death of five of its workers and injury of 16 others.  Tragically, it’s one of the country’s deadliest onshore drilling accident in years.  Patterson-UTI Energy, of Houston, owns and operates the drilling rig, which exploded and caught fire about 8:45 a.m on Monday, January 25.

Oklahoma Law Change Regarding Worker’s Compensation and Liability

A day after the explosion, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court struck down a portion of the state’s workers compensation law, ruling 8-0 that oil and gas companies can be sued when workers are injured or killed. Oklahoma law holds operators responsible for well site safety, not contract drillers or oil-field service companies.

An Uncontrolled Gas Release Is Believed To Have Caused The Explosion

Although the incident is under investigation, a preliminary report indicates that it may have been due to an uncontrolled gas release. One of the commissioned investigators found evidence to support that the fire that ultimately engulfed the rig was fueled by the uncontrolled gas release. One of the rig workers tried to turn on a device that can shut off the well but he was not able to activate it.

A black plume of smoke that came from the fire blacked out the visibility of the area for miles. The fire was so intense that it actually made it difficult for the emergency crews who had to hold back for hours. In addition to the five who were killed, there were several workers who were injured. One of those had to be taken to the hospital by helicopter. According to the county sheriff, these workers ran after hearing a loud boom and then seeing a raging fire break out.

The five men who died as a consequence of this accident ranged in age of 26 years old to 60 years old. They were all in a control room that was near the drilling platform. The incident is considered a real tragedy and the company was reported as saying that they are absolutely devastated by it.

Employees And Company Executives Deeply Saddened

This tragedy is the most deadly of its kind in Oklahoma’s history, and the employees there say that they are deeply saddened by the death of their colleagues. The company’s president and CEO have pledged that the company will do an extensive investigation to determine the cause of the accident and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. They said that employee safety, as well as the safety of partners, are of utmost importance.

Patterson-UTI Has One Of The Worst Safety Records In Drilling History

Despite the executive’s exertion that they are committed to a substantial investigation, the company itself is plagued by the worst safety record in the history of drilling. This is according to data shown by the Occupational Safety And Health Administration. In recent years a subcommittee of the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions showed that 12 deaths have occurred in just the state of Texas alone with this company. OSHA has records on file showing a number of violations at some of the company’s drilling sites in Oklahoma.

Drilling Jobs Are Dangerous

In general, oil and gas drilling is a dangerous profession. In just the state of Oklahoma, there have been at least 60 workers in five years who have died while working at oil and gas drilling sites. This statistic is according to information provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rising death toll associated with this work spurred a voluntary Statewide shutdown. During the shutdown, all drilling activity came to a halt. The purpose was to give crews the opportunity to review safety procedures and standards.  Hopefully this tragedy will lead to improved work environments and more stringent safety regulations.

If you or a loved one is a victim of an explosion, let Williams Hart help you out.   We have been handling major plant explosion victims since 1983.  Learn your rights.  Call for a free confidential consultation at (713) 230-2200.


Man Dies From Explosion At A Natural Gas Site

Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2019 at 12:06 pm    

Explosion At A Natural Gas Site

Randy Yellowman was a 47-year-old man originally from New Mexico who died due to an explosion that took place at a natural gas well located in southwest Colorado. He was working alone at the time and was a contract truck driver for a gas and oil company. The exact cause of the explosion is being investigated.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is leading the investigation and several other agencies are also involved. Tribal Police are also participating in the investigation. The well is located on an Indian Reservation that is approximately 6 miles west of Ignacio and approximately 22 miles Southeast of Durango, Colorado.

It appears that Yellowman was in the process of transferring produced water from one of the tanks to his truck when the explosion happened. This type of water is a byproduct of extracting natural gas. At this time it is believed that the accident happened because of a failure with the water tank.

A Significant Percentage Of Oil And Gas Incidents Lead To Fatalities

Every year nationwide, there are oil and gas incidents that lead to injury and death. In a recent year, more than 10% of those involved in an incident died from their injuries. These fatalities occurred across 14 States. The states with the highest rate of incidents include Texas, North Dakota and Oklahoma.

Most of the workers who died worked for service companies.  It is not uncommon for accidents and fatalities to occur while servicing a well and/or working for drilling companies.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Injury And Fatality In The Oil And Gas Industry?

An estimated 18% of accidents occur while transporting the oil and gas on roadways. Another 15% of accidents happen when an object falls on workers. The incident in southwest Colorado was caused by an explosion.  It’s estimated 15% of oil and gas injuries and fatalities are due to explosions each year.

Fatality In The Oil And Gas Industry Accidents

What Is The FOG Database?

The Fatalities in the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry (FOG) is a system for collecting data that keeps an ongoing collection of information related to accidents and fatalities within the oil and gas industry. The hope is that this information will allow the industry to develop safety practices to reduce injuries and fatalities. This collection of information is used by employers, the government and OSHA.

The data includes all workers that are directly or indirectly involved in the oil and gas industry. Regardless of whether they are in the exploration of petroleum or natural gas, working with wells, or other areas of the industry, they are included in this data. The data includes workers who are paid based on contracts or a fee basis. If a worker is included in this data and is fatally injured then it will be tracked by this system.

How Is FOG Different From The Information Maintained By The Bureau Of Labor Statistics?

FOG is a collection of data specifically related to the oil and gas industry and most specifically with regard to fatalities that happen within that industry. This collection of data includes information that would not be typically maintained with Bureau of Labor Statistics. For instance, there is tracking on employees that suffer cardiac events because it has been found that being exposed to certain chemicals can lead to an event that mimics cardiac failure.

FOG data reveals that an average of eight fatalities occur monthly in the oil and gas industry, and almost half of were in service work.  The next largest group were with individuals working for drilling companies.

Explosion Accident Lawsuit

If you have a loved one who has been harmed in a natural gas explosion, call  our law firm.  We have been helping families and their loved ones since 1983 and continue to do so with our experience, resources and justice for passion. Call us at (888) 220-0640 for a free consultation.  There is never a fee unless we recover compensation for you.


Enbridge Gas Explosion Causes Fireball in Ohio

Posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 at 4:25 pm    

Enbridge Gas Pipeline Explosion in Ohio

A fireball damaged properties and homes caused by an Enbridge natural gas pipeline in Ohio, prompting nearby residents to evacuate.

Two Homes Engulfed in Flames

Emergency management director Chasity Schmelzenbach said the explosion occurred on Enbridge’s Texas Eastern pipeline system that destroyed two homes.

According to Schmelzenbach, they received reports of flames shooting up from 80 to 200 feet. “You could see it upwards of 10-15 miles away. Lots of people thought it was in their backyard because it does appear large.”

Fire Had Been Contained and Residents Evacuated

Two people were injured and two properties have been damaged in the fire that happened at 10:40 AM. Residents had been evacuated and the fire contained.

Enbridge’s Response

The Calgary-based natural gas company said that they did an immediate isolation of the section of the pipeline, as well as coordinating with the authorities in regards to the incident.

Enbridge Executive Vice President Bill Yardley released a statement stating that they’re “working closely with local officials to restore the incident site safely.”

Details of the explosion has already been relayed to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and it has sent an investigator to check the scene.

pipeline explosion in Ohio

Photo via Wochit News

Enbridge – Natural Gas Carrier Catering to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Markets

Enbridge’s Texas Eastern pipeline carries natural gas from Texas and the U.S. Gulf Coast to markets in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.

Based in Calgary, Canada the company is the largest natural gas provider in the country with customers in Quebec, New York State, and New Brunswick.

They also operate the world’s longest crude oil and liquids transportation system and are focused in the gathering, transportation, processing and storage of natural gas. Enbridge also has an increasing involvement in power transmission.

The Aftermath

It’s not yet clear if the shut-in done by Enbridge would affect clients in some densely populated locations.

A Similar Incident from British Columbia

Another fire incident on an Enbridge gas pipeline in northern British Columbia late last year resulted in numerous refineries in Washington state to temporarily shut down.

Contact Our Explosion Accident Lawyers

The lawyers at Williams Hart have been helping injured victims and their families since 1983. Our experience and resources have helped families obtain justice for their loved ones who have been injured or killed in explosion accidents.

If you have lost a loved to a workplace explosion, call us at (888) 220-0640 for a free consultation.


Gas Pipeline Explosion in Ohio Injures One, Damages Several Properties; Investigations Now Underway

Posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 at 6:13 am    

pipeline explosion in Ohio causes fireball

Photo via MariettaTimes.com

On January 21, a natural gas pipeline that was part of the Texas Eastern Transmission system exploded in  Noble County in Ohio. The explosion resulted in a fire, injured one person, destroyed three homes, and caused damage to three additional homes and the surrounding terrain.

According to the Noble County Emergency Management Agency as reported by Dispatch, “It was a 30-inch line that has been in that location for several years. United Ambulance treated and transported one injured resident from the scene to a local hospital where that resident received treatment for minor burns.”

The Noble County Sheriff’s received called at 10:40 a.m. on Monday. Caldwell, Summerfield and Lewisville fire departments were immediately dispatched to the scene. The area was cleared by 5:00 p.m. as the fire departments worked with several companies in the area to help them identify the impacted line.

The American Red Cross was on standby to provide services for families that were affected by the explosion.

Explosion Witnesses

Witnesses and residents surrounding the area narrated their experiences of when the explosion happened.

Trina Moore, a resident near the area said her photos fell and that, “Our house shook so bad, things came off the walls. It shook for about 15 seconds, but it felt like forever. All of the neighbors ran outside.”

Emergency responders also said they experienced the ground shaking after the explosion.

Enbridge Inc. Releases a Statement

The Texas Eastern Transmission is owned by a Canadian energy company, Enbridge Inc. Following the explosion, the Calgary-based company released a statement.

An excerpt from the statement reads:

“Our first concern is for the safety of the community and our employees. We have activated our emergency response plan and are cooperating with authorities in our response. There was a fire, which has been contained, and residents within the proximity of the incident have been evacuated.”

According to the company, the pipeline section that exploded was installed between 1952 and 1953.

Ohio Pipeline Explosion Enbridge

A Dangerous Pipeline System?

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has already recorded 33 significant incidents on the Texas Easter Transmission System between 2019 and November 2018. This means that incidents concerning the pipeline have caused death, injuries that require hospitalization, or at least $50,000 in costs.

Since 2010, there have been two incidents on the Texas Eastern Transmission system that caused injuries that required hospitalization.

Pipeline Safety Now a Huge Concern As Industry Opponents Speak Up

Due to the recent explosion as well as the resurfacing of previous incidents, industry opponents are concerned about the safety of the pipeline.

“Enough is enough; it’s time that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the state of Ohio put the health and safety of people before the corporate profits,” said Teresa Mills of Buckeye Environmental Network.

Ongoing Investigation

Currently, an investigation is underway. Noble County authorities said that it could take six months or longer to identify the cause of the explosion.

Chasity Schmelzenbach, the director of Noble County Emergency Management Agency said, “The company will collect samples from the pipe that will be sent to a metallurgist for testing to determine what caused it to rupture. It is our experience that process will take four to six months, or longer.”

Enbridge will also conduct their own private investigation while the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will lead the state’s investigation, which will be supported by the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Limited Access to the Site

Enbridge Inc. is only allowing limited access to the site due to ongoing safety concerns. According to the company, it is not safe to be within 700 feet of where the explosion took place. Currently, the company is testing and decompressing two lines that exploded to guarantee the area is safe.

Once the company completes its ongoing safety measures, other investigators will be able to access the site.

How Williams Hart Can Help

Explosions like this can lead to extremely dangerous situations. In this case, injuries were incurred and property was damaged. Victims of the explosion should contact a lawyer to ensure that their rights are protected and to help get the compensation that they are owed.

Williams Hart has been dealing with explosion cases for years. Let our attorneys fight for your rights. Contact us today!

(713) 352-7071

Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident?

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