The United States has a vast network of more than two million miles of pipelines stretching across the country. Oil and natural gas companies use these pipelines to quickly and efficiently deliver resources to American homes and businesses. America’s pipeline network has made the process of transporting these natural resources much easier than it would otherwise be.
Despite this, however, our country is no stranger to accidents involving these pipelines. In August of 2021, a natural gas pipeline exploded in Coolidge, Arizona, killing an innocent bystander and his 14-year-old daughter. Another woman suffered severe burns but managed to survive the blast. This incident was a sad reminder of how suddenly a pipeline can explode and the serious damage that it can cause.
If you or a family member have been affected by a pipeline explosion, you may have a claim against the oil and natural gas company or other individuals involved with the maintenance of the pipeline. At Burg Simpson, our natural gas pipeline explosion attorneys have helped victims of these unfortunate incidents. Our legal team is available to speak with you about your claim at any time.
The Causes of Pipeline Explosions
When a pipeline explosion occurs, the cause will be carefully investigated by authorities. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Division of the NTSB is the federal agency that is responsible for looking into pipeline blasts. NTSB investigators are trained experts who will produce detailed written reports with their findings regarding the incident, usually within a year of when it occurred. Below are some of the most common findings regarding pipeline explosions.
1. Improper Maintenance
Pipelines are made up of many individual parts designed to transport hazardous materials across long distances. Like other items designed for transportation, the components of a pipeline can corrode and break down over time, leading to weaknesses or faults within the pipeline itself. A weakened or corroded pipeline can then lead to the escape of harmful and combustible chemicals. When these chemicals mix with other materials, they can form the perfect storm for an explosion. It is vital to check pipeline maintenance records to determine if the line was in good working order at the time of the explosion.
2. Equipment Failure
Equipment failure is one of the leading causes of pipeline explosions. According to statistics, this cause contributed to about 18% of all reported pipeline explosions between 1986 and 2013. Failure of a tank, pump, valve, or other components anywhere along the pipeline can lead to a serious explosion within a matter of seconds.
3. Improper Training
Employees of oil and natural gas companies are tasked with working in or near the pipelines on a daily basis. These same employees can also be responsible for maintenance and following all recommended safety procedures when working in the industry. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) makes rules and regulations for pipeline workers and companies to follow. These rules are designed to implement uniform safety standards. Unfortunately, sometimes the OSHA rules are violated by improperly trained employees, leading to a preventable, catastrophic explosion.
4. Aging Pipelines
While it is very robust, much of America’s pipeline system is also old. About half of the existing pipeline network was constructed during the 1950s and 1960s. Even though the pipelines were made of metal and iron, these materials will naturally corrode over time. As the corrosion of the pipeline happens, the system becomes vulnerable in the weakest spots, leading to a potential escape or mixing of toxic chemicals.
5. Excavation and Blasting
Sometimes it is necessary for workers to excavate or blast around the site of a pipeline. Excavation and blasting jobs are among the most dangerous types of work in the industry. Sometimes a construction company is responsible for the excavation. In other cases, the natural gas company will perform the task itself.
Improper excavation methods or failing to know the precise location of the underground pipeline can lead to disaster. Not all employees take their time to carefully mark dangerous locations; they sometimes choose to proceed carelessly with their work. A blasting or excavation error is one of the most common causes of pipeline explosions in the United States.
Help for Pipeline Explosion Victims
If you have been affected by a pipeline explosion in the United States, you may have legal rights and options. These cases often involve complex litigation against natural oil and gas companies. An experienced pipeline explosion accident attorney can help guide you through this difficult process.
Victims of explosions could have the right to recover certain types of damages, such as:
- Medical and prescription costs
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering
- Punitive damages in certain cases
The days and weeks following a pipeline explosion can be devastating for victims. Having an attorney to handle all of the legal details is vital to ensuring your long-term recovery. Before you speak with the insurance company or other third party about your case, you should reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible.
National Pipeline Explosion Lawyers
Here at Burg Simpson, we have a team of trained and dedicated lawyers and legal professionals standing by to assist you at any time. We handle cases of pipeline explosion accidents across the country, so no matter where you are, we can help. Our firm has recovered more than $2 billion dollars for innocent victims. We are not afraid of or intimidated by large corporations, and we have the resources to help you and your family get the justice that you deserve.
Our consultations are always free for all potential and prospective clients. When you need a tough and aggressive law firm, you can count on us to obtain the best results. There is no financial obligation unless we win. During the initial consultation, we will go over every aspect of your case in detail and help to come up with a plan to secure your future. To speak with one of our national pipeline explosion attorneys, please contact us using our online intake form or give us a call at 866-695-1839.