Articles Posted in Oil & Gas

Car crashes can have many terrible consequences that may impact automobile occupants and bystanders alike.  One consequence that many people don’t think about is the link between car crashes and gas leaks.  Gas leaks can be silent killers, poisoning the air and creating the risk of horrific explosions.  As a San Francisco gas leak injury lawyer, Attorney Brod knows these incidents are far more common than people might imagine.  He and his team believe in helping the injured and/or mourning by holding the responsible parties accountable for the consequences of their actions.  We bring personal injury suits and/or wrongful death claims in Northern California in cases of car accidents, gas leaks, and cases that involve a dangerous combination of both.

Auto Accidents Causing Gas Leaks: Far Too Common, Far Too Dangerous

CBS SF reports that fire crews were called to the 2200 block of Story Road in East San Jose on Sunday due to reports of a gas leak.  Accordgaslineing to San Jose Fire Department Capt. Brad Cloutier, the leak was the result of a motor vehicle crash.  Officials evacuated numerous buildings and homes located on Story Road and Amador Drive.

At the Brod Law Firm, we are concerned with the health and safety of all who live in and visit Northern California.  We believe wholeheartedly in “Prevention First” and we would much rather see accidents avoided than see clients after the fact.  Still, we are also committed to victims.  We represent people who are injured or grieving because of the actions (or inaction) of a negligent person or careless company.  Our dual commitment can be seen in our work as an Oakland refinery accident law firm.  We advocate for refinery safety in the hopes of preventing refinery accidents.  We also represent people injured in refinery fires, harmed by toxic gases released from area refineries, or otherwise injured because a refinery failed to take preventative measures.

Report Criticizes Tesoro Refinery for “Safety Culture Deficiencies”

Earlier this week, ABC7 reported on the release of a new federal report that criticizes officials at Tesoro Martinez Refinery for promoting a lax safety culture.  The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (“CSB”) cited 15 separate acid spills at refinerythe refinery during a five-year span including the 2014 spill during which two refinery employees were burned and some 84,000 pounds of sulfuric acid were released.  According to the CSB’s chairwoman, “While these incidents may appear to be isolated events, they are indicative of safety culture deficiencies at the Tesoro Martinez Refinery.”  Likewise, one of the lead investigators suggested that sampling systems used by the refinery “routinely exposed operators to avoidable risk.”

Clean air is essential to life.  Reliable energy may not be the same type of basic building block, but it is nonetheless essential to our modern way of living in 2016.  At the Brod Law Firm, we believe that we should be able to have both clean air and reliable energy.  As an Oakland industrial pollution law firm, we advocate for Bay Area residents sickened by toxic pollution from oil refineries and other industrial sources.

Tesoro to Spend Millions to Improve Refinery Emissions as Part of Settlement Agreement

This week, KRON4 reported that the Tesoro refinery in Martinez is one of six company locations covered by a recently announced federal court settlement.  Tesoro has agreed to pay $425 million in order to settle a Department of Justice (“DOJ”) lawsuit charging the company with violating the Clean Air Act and other regulations.  The Texas-based company will pay $403 million to improve equipmpoisonent used to control dangerous air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic companies.  Additionally, Tesoro agreed to pay $10.45 million in civil penalties and spend $12.2 million on projects designed to mitigate the impact of air pollution at the community level.  The latter payment includes $1 million aimed at enabling the Mount Diablo Unified School District to purchase at least four new school buses so it can retire older buses that use polluting diesel fuel and replace them with buses that burn cleaner compressed natural gas.

From crashes to mechanical issues, tankertruckaccidents involving large trucks are always frightening and the danger is magnified when the truck is carrying hazardous materials.  Transporting fuel and other potentially dangerous materials is necessary, but it must be done with the highest concern for safety.  Hazardous materials truck accidents can claim lives and cause devastating injuries.  Our Oakland truck accident lawyer advocates for the victims of hazmat accidents helping ensure them recover compensation and holding those responsible accountable for the consequences of their actions and choices.

Diesel Tanker Truck Catches Fire in Vallejo

Thankfully, as the Vallejo Times-Herald reported, tragedy was averted in the case of a diesel truck fire in Vallejo this week.  Early Monday morning, the Vallejo Fire Department responded to a fuel tanker truck fire on Highway 37 near the Fairgrounds Drive exit.  Department officials told reporters that the double tires on the tanker caught fire, possibly as a result of a brake failure on a hill.  While the fire melted the aluminum surrounding the tires, firefighters were able to extinguish the fired before it breached the diesel tank.  Battalion Chief Urrutia said the fire would have been a much bigger, “ugly” incident had the flames reached the tank.  No injuries were reported and the truck’s load was transferred to a second tanker.

Some of therefinery most important things in our lives are those we rarely think about, like trusting that the brakes will engage when you step on the appropriate pedal.  They can also be some of the most dangerous when things go awry.  Oil and gas lines are among these things.  Oil and gas quite literally fuel our lives.  We trust that the companies that supply these utilities are doing what they should to keep us safe and prevent, among other things, pipeline explosions.  As Californians know all too well, this isn’t always the case and our San Francisco pipeline accident attorney is here to help when tragedy strikes.

Expert Contradicts PG&E’s Interpretation of Rules in Trial Stemming from 2010 San Bruno Explosion

The safety of gas pipelines is in the news this week as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (“PG&E”) faces criminal charges and fines of up to $562 million alleged violations arising out of the investigation that followed the deadly pipeline explosion in San Bruno in September 2010.  SFGate reports that a government engineer testified this week and contradicted PG&E’s assertion that certain pipeline-related rules are vague and self-defeating.  While PG&E contends that a rule on pipeline pressure is vague and creates odd incentives, the prosecution witness testified that it was far from obscure, had been discussed at public workshops, and was explained on the agency website.  During his opening statement, PG&E’s attorney said the company did its best to comply with vague regulations.

Wildfires continue to dominate the headlines in California and throughout our region.  For some, fires are a hard-to-watch story on the news.  For others, they are a very present danger, a threat to property and well-being.  Some wildfires are sparked by nature, but others are manmade.  Our San Francisco fire injury lawyer represents people who are injured or suffer the loss of a relative because of a manmade fire.  Attorney Brod and his team also use this blog to provide information that we hope helps prevent future tragedies.  Today’s topic is fresh from the headlines — water heater fires.

Water Heater Blamed for Massive Fire

On Wednesday, officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (“Cal Fire”) identified a faulty water heater located in an outbuilding as a significant factor causing one of our region’s massive fires.  According to the Napa Valley Register, Cal Fire representatives said the gas water heater sparked one of two fires that eventually became the Rocky Fire.  Flammable liquids in the outbuilding caught fire and then the blaze spread to nearby vegetation.  The Rocky Fire consumed almost 70,000 acres, caused the evacuation of 13,000 residents, and destroyed 43 homes before it was contained late last week.  Officials are still looking into the circumstances surrounding the fire and working to identify the cause of the second fire that became part of the Rocky Fire.

In the future, we may be able to rely solely on renewable energy resources, but for now oil and gas are essential to the operations of our country and our state.  These fuels are highly flammable and generally quite dangerous if not handled with the utmost of care.  Although it is too early to identify a cause in Sunday’s refinery fire, many oil and gas accidents occur because an entity failed to respect these potentially hazardous substances.  When a fuel processing or distribution accident leaves injuries and/or fatalities in its wake, our Oakland refinery fire law firm helps victims uncover the cause of the tragedy and pursue money damages from those responsible.

Fire at Phillips 66 San Francisco Refinery in Rodeo

On Sunday, as reported by The Contra Costa Times, a small fire struck the Phillips 66 refinery on the 1300 block of San Pablo Avenue in Rodeo, about 20 miles south of Oakland.  The Phillips 66 San Francisco refinery was built in 1896.  It has an 80,000 barrel daily crude feed capacity and a daily clean fuels production limit around 4.3 million gallons.

Refinery staff and local firefighters responded when flames broke out around 3 PM.  A company spokesman said no injuries were reported and an investigation is underway to determine the cause.  It is, according to the newspaper, the first major incident since an overpressured water tank caused the release of chemical fumes in June 2012.  In response to Sunday’s fire, Contra Costa County issued an alert advising people with respiratory sensitivities to stay indoors or avoid the area.  ABC News reported that the advisory was lifted after two hours.

refineryRefinery Fire Statistics

A 2002 National Fire Protection Association (“NFPA”) report, “Petroleum Refineries and Natural Gas Plants” found that from 1994 through 1998 there were, on average, 228 fires at refineries and natural gas plants each year in the United States.  Although this is an older figure, some evidence suggests that refinery safety has not improved.  While observing the somber ten-year anniversary of the 2015 Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 and injured approximately 180 workers, the Houston Chronicle found nearly the same number of workers died at U.S. refineries between March 2005 and March 2015 (at least 58) as did over the previous decade (64).  A piece of data that is at once broader and a narrower than the NFPA figures comes from the Insurance Information Institute which found there were 18 major oil/gas fires and explosions in 2014 that claimed 40 lives.

British Refinery Fire “Could Have Been Easily Prevented”

Last week, Britain’s national regulator overseeing workplace health and safety (Health & Safety Executive or “HSE”) issued a press release announcing a £ 1.4 million fine issued against an energy firm in connection with a 2010 refinery fire that killed a 24 year old worker.  Investigators concluded the fire was the result of an uncontrolled release of crude oil.  After the hearing, an investigator elaborated:

“If [the company] had followed well established principles of risk assessment this major fire and the subsequent fatal injury…could have been easily prevented.  Although the accident arose from a simple task, the magnitude of the risk was great. The risk should have been identified before the task started, and action taken to either eliminate or control it. This did not happen.  [The company] as operator in control of a major accident hazard establishment fell far short of the standard required of them.  This tragic incident should serve as a reminder to all such operators that if they fail to assess the risks associated with even simple and routine maintenance tasks, the consequences can be severe, and irreparable to the people involved and their families.”

Accountability, Compensation, & Prevention

Oil and gas companies must be held to the highest of safety standards.  Uncovering the cause of a refinery fire, pipeline explosion, or other oil/gas accident is critical to preventing future tragedies.  Although both industry and government groups conduct their own investigations, civil litigation is an important tool for achieving the goal of prevention.  Of course, these lawsuits can also provide compensation to the injured and/or grieving.

If you or someone you love suffered an injury in an oil- or gas-related accident in Oakland, San Francisco, Sonoma, or the surrounding areas, our Northern California refinery accident lawyer can help.  We also assist clients with refinery accidents in Central California.  We can help you recover critically needed compensation and give added meaning to your loss by ensuring your tragedy is not forgotten and the lessons learned help prevent others from sharing your (or your loved one’s) fate.

See Related Blog Posts:

Fresno Pipeline Explosion Calls Attention to an Ever-Present Threat

One Year Later: California Oil & Gas Attorney on the Response to the 2012 Chevron Refinery Fire

(Image by Greg Goebel)

 

explosionThis September will mark the five-year anniversary of the massive San Bruno pipeline accident that killed eight and left dozens injured.  Sadly, pipeline explosions remain a very real and very present threat as became all-too-clear to another California community on Friday.  As a California pipeline explosion lawyer, Attorney Greg Brod stands ready to help when pipeline explosions cause injury and/or death.  Our legal team strongly believes that holding companies accountable for pipeline accidents not only compensates the injured/grieving but also helps prevent future tragedies.

Pipeline Explosion Rocks Fresno

It was just before 2:30 P.M. on Friday.  At the Fresno County Peace Officers’ Range near Highway 99, deputies, a prison work crew, and others were hard at work.  Suddenly, as reported by The San Francisco Chronicle (discussion based on version revised at 9:03 A.M. Saturday) the day turned from routine to unforgettable as an explosion rang out.  Flames sprouted to the treetops, rising more than 100 feet in the air.  The explosion and the intense heat it generated left at least 11 people injured and requiring hospital aid, including four in critical condition and two in serious condition.

Oil and gas are essential utilities that help keep our modern world moving and the oil and gas industries are important parts of our nation’s economy.  However, as the residents of San Bruno know far too well, oil and gas lines can be incredibly dangerous.  At the Brod Law Firm, our Northern California pipeline accident lawyer believes that safety must be priority number one and our team is ready to step forward to help anyone injured in a pipeline accident.

SanBrunoRecalling a Day Many Will Never Forget

Last fall, ABC7 marked a somber anniversary, calling September 9, 2010 “the day no one can forget.”  On that date, a PG&E natural gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno sparking a huge fire that one resident compared to “a geyser of flames.”  The blaze ultimately claimed eight lives and left 66 people injured.  Thirty-eight homes were destroyed and more than a dozen lots remained vacant as of the four-year anniversary.  Not surprisingly, residents remain angry with PG&E despite the $1.4 billion fine levied against the industry giant, noting that the incident could have been prevented and saying the company has not properly apologized to those impacted by the tragedy.

Even if the harm catches you off-guard, the basis of most threats can be seen – the car doing 60mph in a 25mph zone, the slip-potential of water pooling atop a flight of stairs, the driver focused on his phone instead of the road. Carbon monoxide, however, is neither seen nor smelled. It is a dangerous, even deadly, threat. In this entry, our San Francisco poisoning attorney focuses on automobiles and carbon monoxide, a dangerous mix.

Brief Refresher on CO Poisoning poison.png

The Centers for Disease Control explains that carbon monoxide (“CO”) is an odorless, colorless gas that forms in combustion fumes. People and animals are put at risk when CO builds up in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space. As the gas builds in the air, it also begins to replace oxygen in the blood and deprives bodily tissues of the same. Early symptoms of exposure include headache, nausea/vomiting, weakness, chest pain, and confusion. Since these symptoms are vague and mimic many other conditions, diagnosing CO poisoning is tough.