According to Fox 26, an explosion at Sound Resource Solutions, a chemical plant located at 731 FM 1127, has resulted in the injury of an employee and prompted a shelter-in-place order for nearby residents. The incident occurred at approximately 8:17 a.m. on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, sending a massive plume of smoke billowing over the area for several hours. As of 1:15 p.m., the smoke had mostly dissipated, but firefighters remained on the scene, actively spraying foam to contain any remaining hazards.
The injured employee has been identified as an individual who sustained first-degree burns to the face and second-degree and third-degree burns to the arms. The individual was promptly transported to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in stable condition for medical treatment. Fortunately, no other injuries have been reported among the 19 employees who were present at the time of the explosion.
The San Jacinto County Office of Emergency Management has been conducting air monitoring in the area and has confirmed that no chemicals have been detected in the air so far. Despite this, officials are urging residents to avoid the affected area, even though the shelter-in-place order has been lifted in both San Jacinto County and Polk County. However, officials in Polk County are still encouraging residents to limit unnecessary outdoor activities, particularly for small children and individuals with respiratory illnesses or other health problems. Shepherd ISD confirmed at 3 p.m. that there was no longer a need for shelter-in-place measures within their district due to the wind direction.
In response to the incident, several precautionary measures have been implemented. HVAC systems may be turned back on at the discretion of residents, and school districts will be releasing students at their normal dismissal times. Goodrich students who were evacuated to Onalaska have been allowed to return to Goodrich, where they can either complete their school day or be released to go home. Additionally, a private school located on FM 1127 has been evacuated to the Shepherd ISD Administration Building.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, but Geoff Harfield, the president of Sound Resource Solutions, described it as a "forklift incident." The plant reportedly houses various chemicals, including wood turpentine, phosphoric acid, xylene, diesel fuel, and other substances. Harfield emphasized that the company has always been committed to safety and intends to rebuild and continue being a positive part of the community.
Authorities will continue their investigation into the incident to determine the exact cause of the explosion. Residents and community members are encouraged to remain vigilant and seek updates from official sources regarding the ongoing situation.
In the aftermath of a factory explosion, survivors often face the daunting task of rebuilding their lives and seeking justice for the harm they have endured. To shed light on the legal options available to survivors, we sat down with esteemed workers' compensation attorney Marc Lenahan, Esq. In this insightful interview, Mr. Lenahan shares his expertise on pursuing civil cases against those accountable for factory explosions. Join us as we explore the complexities of these cases and uncover the avenues survivors can explore to obtain compensation and hold responsible parties liable.
Editor Darla Medina (DM): Thank you for joining us, Mr. Lenahan.
Marc Lenahan (ML): Thank you for having me, Darla. It's my pleasure to be here and shed some light on this important topic.
DM: With regards to survivors of factory explosions and other work-related accidents, what legal options do workers have in pursuing civil cases against those accountable?
ML: Survivors of factory explosions often have the right to pursue civil cases, seeking compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other related damages. These cases typically fall under premises liability or product liability claims. In premises liability cases, the focus is on holding the property owner or operator responsible for maintaining a safe working environment. In product liability cases, the emphasis is on holding manufacturers liable for any defective equipment or materials that contributed to the explosion.
DM: How does workers' compensation come into play in these situations?
ML: Workers' compensation is a system designed to provide benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. In the case of a factory explosion, survivors may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, which typically cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. However, it's important to note that workers' compensation benefits may not fully compensate survivors for the extent of their damages. That's where pursuing a civil case can help survivors seek additional compensation.
DM: What factors should survivors consider when deciding whether to pursue a civil case?
ML: Survivors should consider several factors when deciding to pursue a civil case. First, they should consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in workers' compensation and personal injury law. The attorney can evaluate the facts of the case, gather evidence, and determine the viability of a civil claim. Survivors should also be aware of any legal deadlines or statutes of limitations that may apply to their case. Lastly, survivors should consider the potential benefits of pursuing a civil case, such as obtaining full compensation for their injuries and holding those responsible accountable for their actions.
DM: Are there any challenges survivors may face when pursuing civil cases in these circumstances?
ML: Absolutely. Civil cases arising from factory explosions can be complex and challenging. Gathering evidence, determining liability, and establishing causation require extensive investigation and expert analysis. Additionally, defendants may have powerful legal teams representing their interests, making it crucial for survivors to have skilled legal representation to level the playing field. Navigating through the legal process can be overwhelming, but with the right attorney, survivors can have the support they need to pursue their case effectively.
DM: Thank you, Mr. Lenahan, for sharing your insights on this important topic. We appreciate your expertise and guidance.
ML: You're welcome, Darla. It was my pleasure to discuss this critical issue. Survivors of factory explosions deserve justice, and I hope that our conversation sheds light on their legal options.