ExxonMobil has filed a lawsuit against three industrial services companies and three insurance companies over a fire in its Beaumont, Texas refinery. The blaze resulted in injuries to several workers.
The lawsuit was filed on September 9 against Clean Harbors Industrial Services, Signature Industrial Services, Brock Services, American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Co., Zurich American Insurance Co., and Lexington Insurance Co., in Jefferson County District Court.
According to the complaint, a fire started in the refinery on April 17, 2013, after an attempt to service a unit that removes sulfur from hydrocarbon feeds. The suit states that ExxonMobil hired Clean Harbors to clean the exchangers and remove all hydrocarbons from the system, then hired Signature to remove bolts from the system after the cleaning.
The lawsuit states that Clean Harbors declared the clean to be complete, but approximately 30-60 gallons of hydrocarbon were still present in the system. The hydrocarbon was released from the channel head flange when Signature removed bolts from the unit. The suit alleges that Signature used a cutting wrench rather than an impact wrench, and the flame from the torch ignited the hydrocarbons, causing the fire.
ExxonMobil said that employees of Brock Services were injured in the fire, and ExxonMobil was forced to pay them workers’ compensation benefits. Lawsuits have also been filed against ExxonMobil by injured workers. According to the Beaumont Fire Department, 12 workers were injured in the fire, with three of them sustaining severe burns.
In its suit, ExxonMobil alleges breach of contract and negligence, and it seeks actual damages plus 18 percent interest, declaratory relief, attorneys’ fees and other relief.