May 19, 2023 — Two lawsuits have been filed after a deadly fire at a Marathon Petroleum refinery in Texas City earlier this week.
The first lawsuit against Marathon Petroleum was filed by Euardo O., an employee of Mistras Group Inc., a company that provides support to oil refineries. His attorney said he suffered 2nd- and 3rd-degree burns in the fire.
He and two other men were repairing the refinery’s Ultraformer-3 unit, which converts naphtha into reformate, an octane-booster for gasoline. Naphtha is a highly-flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture.
According to an initial report from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a splitter on the Ultraformer-3 unit developed a leak and caught on fire.
The fire killed Scott Higgins, a 55-year-old machinist who was nearing retirement, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by his family.
Lawyers accuse Marathon Petroleum and others of failing to “properly and adequately manage, inspect, maintain, and repair” the Ultraformer-3 unit and other machinery.
OSHA and other state and federal agencies are also investigating the fire, which is the second deadly incident at the Marathon refinery this year. In February, a contractor was also electrocuted to death.
In March 2005, when refinery was owned by BP, it was also the site of one of the deadliest refinery accidents in Texas history when an explosion killed 15 workers and injured around 180 other people.
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