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Fatal explosions at hazardous oil refineries

A fire at a Louisiana ExxonMobil refinery on Nov. 22 injured six workers, four of whom were eventually listed in critical condition. This fire is just one incident in the list of over 500 oil refinery accidents that have been reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the last 22 years. Many of the other accidents have led to fatalities.

The United States currently operates 141 oil refineries, many of them clustered in California and Texas. While these oil refineries are well-known sources of pollution in the neighborhoods where they are located, they are also hazardous workplaces for the employees that operate them. Many people say that oil refineries do not adopt safety recommendations even after fatal explosions occur.

In 2010, a fatal accident occurred at the Tesoro Corporation's oil refinery on the island of Anacortes, Wash. Seven workers died after disgorged hydrogen and a crude oil component ignited. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries later determined that the oil refinery had operated with faulty equipment for years and failed to perform timely maintenance. Five years prior to the Tesoro explosion, an explosion at a BP oil refinery in Texas killed 15 workers and injured 180 workers.

When a person suffers from serious injuries in a workplace explosion, they may be unable to return to their job for several weeks. Some injured workers are never able to return to work due to permanent disabilities. An injured worker may be able to pursue some compensation for their lost wages by filing a workers' compensation claim with their employer's insurance provider.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Oil Refinery Workers Face Dangerous Conditions, Deadly Explosions," Jim Morris, Dec. 13, 2016

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