TPC Plant Explosion Rocks Port Neches – Attorney Brent Coon Files Temporary Restraining Order

TPC Plant Explosion Rocks Port Neches – Attorney Brent Coon Files Temporary Restraining Order

Early Wednesday morning a massive explosion ripped through a chemical plant in Port Neches, Texas, causing extensive damage to businesses and residences in the surrounding community in a several mile radius.  As of noon, the fire continues to burn and release butadiene, a dangerous chemical identified as a potential carcinogen by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  Mandatory evacuations and shelter-in-place have been issued for those near-by.  Thousands of local residents have been impacted from the explosion with damaged property, exposure to the fumes and smoke, and mandatory evacuations. (All of this coming right on the heels of the second historic flooding of the region in the last two years, most recently from tropical storm Imelda)

Brent Coon & Associates, a Southeast Texas based law firm known nationally for handling these types of petrochemical disasters, has filed a Petition and Temporary Restraining Order with the Jefferson County District Courthouse on behalf of claimants to preserve the evidence while investigating the cause of the explosion.  The representative claimants to the petition are Oscar and Keeli Galvan, who live less than a mile from the TPC Group facility.  Ironically, Oscar is a fire fighter, and Keeli is a local schoolteacher.  According to their doorbell video monitoring system (see link to video below), the blast occurred at 12:58am.  They were awakened by the blast, and immediately checked on their two children, ages four months and two years old.  The Galvans initially sheltered in place in their own hallway, and fearing further explosions and toxic gas releases, then escaped to nearly Beaumont to stay with a relative.  Their home was abandoned to broken windows and doors, typical of areas in the general vicinity of the blast.

Additionally, the claimants seek standing as representatives for class certification to help everyone who has sustained injury or damages of any kind.

“Our first goal is to preserve evidence and initiate our own independent investigation of what transpired.  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.

Over a decade ago, Brent Coon led a grueling fight against British Petroleum following the 2005 Texas City plant explosion that took the lives of 15 workers, including James and Linda Rowe, the parents of BCA client Eva Rowe.  His firm reached a landmark settlement on behalf of Ms. Rowe that included $44 million dollars of charitable contributions dedicated to further worker’s safety and burn treatment protocols and worked with Congress to enhance federal oversight of process safety systems in the U.S. petro-chemical industry.  Hundreds of additional claims were ultimately resolved after several years of additional trials.  Brent worked directly with multiple investigative agencies, including the U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) and the Department of Justice, and the incident and ensuing litigation resulted in sweeping reforms to the petrochemical industry. Since then, the firm has continued to undertake a lead role in multiple petro-chemical industry disasters, most recently in the Pasadena Dupont plant gas poisoning fatalities, the Deer Park ITC explosions, and the Exxon/Mobil explosions in Houston. The firm also addressed over 10,000 claims associated to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in a massive federal MDL process lasting 10 years in New Orleans.

“Once again,” said Mr. Coon, “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.  Most are engaged in processes that can readily cause a massive explosion on a moment’s notice, putting the workforce and even the neighborhoods adjacent at grave risk of harm from not only an explosion, but the release of highly toxic substances, some of which can be almost immediately fatal.  Plant management is pressured to meet unrealistic profit margins at the sacrifice of reinvestment in infrastructure and improvement in health and safety considerations, defacto placing their workers and the community in harm’s way to pad the bottom line for senior executives and wealthy investors.  This ‘profits over people’ mentality continues to cause unnecessary and unjust accidents resulting in serious injury and/or death.”  Mr. Coon envisions pursuing a similar course of action against TPC.  “We will be not only seeking justice for those harmed from this incident, but we will keep the heat on the entire industry.  Hopefully we can use this tragedy as an opportunity to renew our call-to-action for the creation of a state-based OSHA agency for Texas to oversee safety issues at industrial workplaces as well.” said Coon.

As BCA Attorney Eric Newell states, “People who do not live in Southeast Texas cannot really understand the anxiety that goes with living near refineries.  It’s just something that you have to accept, but the fear of something catastrophic is always in the back of your mind.  Today those worst fears happened…. again. ”


ABOUT BCA:  Brent Coon & Associates was founded in 2001. Today, with multiple satellite offices around the country and hundreds of associated firms in various practice areas, it is one of the most recognized trial law firms in the nation and the epitome of the 21st century law practice. Brent Coon & Associates employs a full complement of aggressive litigators with solid experience in individual and complex multi-party, occupational/environmental, health and personal injury cases.

BCA is a public policy firm and has worked with numerous state and federal investigative agencies, including the Department of Justice, multiple state Attorneys General, the United States Chemical and Hazards Investigation Board.  BCA serves as institutional or advisory counsel to numerous agencies and organizations, including the United Steelworkers, pilot unions, railroad and other transportation unions. Their work in this arena has led to widespread improvements in the safety and working conditions of industries throughout America and abroad.

The firm and founder have been repeatedly recognized by most leading journals and legal associations including Texas Lawyer Litigation Department of the Year (2013); Forbes “Lawyer of the Month” and Forbes “Top 75 Litigation Firms”; MTMP “Clarence Darrow Award”; Texas Monthly Magazine “Texas Super Lawyers” (2007-2015); “Best Lawyers in America”; Lawdragon “”500 Leading Plaintiff Lawyers in America”; “American Association of Justice”


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