Five victims of an explosion at ExxonMobil’s Olefins Plant in Texas, US in 2019 have been awarded almost $30 million after a jury found the energy major to be fully responsible. A total of 66 people were injured in the incident which occurred after a line rupture caused by a build up of polymer popcorn.
The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, which represented the five victims, said that ExxonMobil had known that a build up of popcorn polymer could lead to an explosion but did nothing to implement safety practices to prevent such an incident.
The explosion happened on 31 July 2019 at the plant in Baytown on the outskirts of Houston. The explosion destroyed a tower at the site and cause a significant fire.
During the court case, ExxonMobil was accused of withholding knowledge of risks and didn’t warn workers about the dangers. ExxonMobil denied the allegations during the trial and over three years of litigation, and disputed the injuries that the victims said they had suffered in the explosion.
However, the jury in the case delivered a verdict that found ExxonMobil 100% responsible and awarded the five victims $28,951,000 (£24m) in damages.
In a statement, ExxonMobil said that it operates to the highest standards to safeguard the health and safety of workers and that the incident had been investigated, allowing the company to learn and make improvements to its processes and procedures. The statement added that it was sympathetic to the victims, however the energy major intended to appeal the decision.
Further Reading: https://engineering.purdue.edu/FFP/research/dust-explosions