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Air Liquide Explosion in La Porte, Texas Kills Javier Ortiz, Injures Others

by Francisco Guerra, IV. on 02/10/2013

Air Liquide's industrial gas facility in La Porte, Texas suffered a large explosion yesterday. At least one Texas worker has been confirmed dead, and another has been confirmed to be in critical condition from the gas plant explosion. The deceased worker, Javier Ortiz's body was found by search and rescue crews Saturday evening, according to an official with Air Liquide. Late Saturday evening, his family says they received word from authorities that 30-year-old Javier Ortiz is the worker that was found dead. He is survived by a wife and three young children.

The injured gas plant worker was sent to the UTMB hospital in Galveston by PHI Air Medical helicopter. The injured employee, remains in UTMB's burn unit in Galveston, where his family says he is in critical condition. According to local news, that man's family say he's suffered burns to more than 75 percent of his body, and he's not speaking right now. They say the victim worked at the plant for at least 10 years and has two daughters.

According to authorities, the explosion happened just before 7:30am in a lab at an Air Liquide cylinder plant in the 11400 block of West Fairmont Parkway at Driftwood near Bay Area Boulevard.Air Liquide spokesperson Michael Rosen said that the plant mixes gases and chemicals for commercial use, and the fire started in the section of the plant where that mixing takes place. La Porte officials have been monitoring air quality and say there was no danger to the public.Company officials said that 15 to 20 people were around the area when the explosion occurred. There are no public reports of additional injured workers and investigators are trying to determine what caused the explosion.

Pasadena is a community full of residents who are no strangers to the "shelter in place," which was issued after the Air Liquide explosion, and lifted nearly two hours after it was first issued. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said it was shortly before 8 a.m. when residents starting calling 911 about the sound of “booms," reporting multiple successive explosions at the large gas plant, not just one. During the Pasadena shelter-in-place, residents south of Spencer Highway and east of Beltway 8 were encouraged to stay inside with their doors and windows closed and their A/C off.

According to the city of La Porte, the explosion and fire occurred at the Air Liquide cylinder plant in the 11400 block of West Fairmont Parkway near Driftwood Drive. Easterly winds pushed smoke from the fire into Pasadena.

While updates from the city indicated the situation was under control, the same updates also revealed that there are still some hot spots at the plant.

A statement released by Air Liquide: “Air Liquide is monitoring a fire at its facility in La Porte. We understand from emergency personnel that the fire is now contained. We are working to determine the cause of the incident and remain in contact with authorities at the scene. The safety of our employees and the communities in which Air Liquide operates remains the company’s top priority. The facility in La Porte houses a mix of industrial gases such as nitrogen and hydrogen that are used in the processing of such things as food and beverages and electronics.”

Texas refinery and gas plant explosion lawyers have seen these events happen all too often in our state and local communities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Javier Ortiz and the unnamed burn victim who remains in critical condition.

Tags: Oil and Gas Refinery Explosions

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