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U.S. alleges negligence in ExxonMobil refinery fire that injured 10, killed 2

By Marian Johns | Mar 19, 2019

BEAUMONT, Texas (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. government has filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil Oil Corporation, alleging violations of federal laws that contributed to a 2013 fire that injured 10 workers and caused the death of two contract employees. 

According to the March 6 court filing in U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas-Beaumont Division, the release of "regulated flammable substances" at ExxonMobil's Beaumont petroleum refinery caused the injuries and the death of the workers. 

In April 2013, the suit says, ExxonMobil hired Signature Industrial Services and Clean Harbors Industrial Services to chemically clean and remove hydrocarbons on its heat exchangers refinery equipment.

The suit alleges ExxonMobil did not ensure that the cleaning process for the heat exchangers removed "all flammable vapors/liquids." This led to a fire several days later during additional work on the equipment, the suit says. 

ExxonMobil failed to identify certain hazards that were associated with the cleaning process, according to the lawsuit.

The U.S. seeks a civil penalty up to $37,500 per day for each violation occurring until Nov. 2, 2015, and $97,729 per day for each violation occurring after Nov. 2, 2015 as well as injunctive relief. 

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