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Caribbean Oil Explosion Lawyers

Red "Danger" triangle shaped sign with skull and crossbonesThere are potentially thousands of victims – both individuals and businesses – who were injured by the 2009 explosion in the Caribbean Petroleum Corporation refinery in Puerto Rico. With nearly a half decade of experience representing injury victims of industrial accidents and toxic exposure, the Puerto Rico oil explosion lawyers of The Sanders Firm are here to help.

If you or a loved one was involved in or evacuated because of the Puerto Rico oil explosion, you may be entitled to compensation. Call The Sanders Firm for a complimentary case review with highly credentialed personal injury attorneys.

Explosion shakes Puerto Rico suburb

On October 23, 2009, at around 12:20 a.m., a fire broke out the Caribbean Petroleum Corporation oil refinery located Bayamon, near Catano, in Puerto Rico. The fire started in the gasoline warehouse and distribution center during a cargo unloading and it caused 11 tanks of gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel to explode. The force rocked homes 2 miles away and it could be heard in Cidra, almost 11 miles away. The explosion’s impact had the force equivalent of a 2.8 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale.

Some residents near the explosion reported seeing a giant black mushroom cloud.  The fire took 135 firefighters, plus the National Guard, days to extinguish. Hundreds of families were evacuated and all schools in the San Juan metropolitan area were closed for up to 4 days after. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had to re-route air traffic around the black smoke that lingered over the town.

Explosion releases toxic gasses

Fortunately, according to Governor Louis Fortuno, the explosion did not cause any fatalities. It did, however, cause several smoke inhalation injuries. Some people were also injured by glass that broke in the explosion.

Thirty-thousand residents were exposed to toxic smoke from the fuel that burned for 60 hours. Caribbean Petroleum was fined to the tune of $1.3 million for the hazardous waste that was released into the air, water, and soil in this industrial accident. The fire damaged thirty acres of nearby wetlands.

Both Governor Fortuñon and President Obama declared states of emergency. The fire cost Puerto Rico over $6 million.

Some of the people evacuated were unable to return for days; the carbon monoxide and sulfur in the black smoke aggravated respiratory illnesses. Nearby businesses were forced to close. Unfortunately the full scope of damages in this type of accident cannot be completely understood at the time – respiratory and other types of injuries can show up years later. At the Sanders Firm, we have intimate knowledge of the delayed response some victims can have after exposure to a toxic substance, equipping us to fight for rights of the victims.

Symptoms of toxic exposure

Symptoms of exposure to toxic substances, including the types released in the Puerto Rico oil explosion- sulfur and carbon monoxide – can include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • Seizures
  • Eye irritation
  • Nose irritation
  • Throat irritation
  • Runny nose
  • Choking
  • Burns
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Tearing eyes
  • Cyanosis

Carbon monoxide exposure is especially dangerous because, as you breathe it, it replaces the oxygen in your blood. Without oxygen, cells die and organs begin to fail.

Who is entitled to file a claim

Individuals and businesses that experienced a loss as a result of the explosion may be entitled to compensation. This includes both medical and financial injuries.

Some victims in the San Juan area experienced respiratory problems immediately. But in cases of exposure to toxic materials, symptoms can appear months or years later. Puerto Rico victims need to be able to prove that their injuries or economic damages were related to and caused by the oil explosion.

Businesses that were interrupted by the evacuation may also be entitled to recover.

The blast damaged homes and businesses more than a mile away from the plant; those within the scope of danger may have a claim against those responsible. The Sanders Firm offers free case consultations and no fee is ever charged unless we win your case.

Liability in a Caribbean oil explosion lawsuit

The Caribbean Petroleum Corporation is one of many parties potentially to blame for the explosion and related damages. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board determined that the explosion was likely caused by a malfunctioning fuel monitoring system. However there are also allegations the employees were trained properly.

A first Puerto Rico oil explosion-related lawsuit was filed within a day of the blast and named Caribbean Petroleum and its insurer as defendants. Others lawsuits followed, adding approximately two dozen additional defendants including the Cape Bruny, the shipping company involved in the cargo unloading that caused the fire and explosion. A class action complaint alleges that the employees pumped too much fuel into the pipeline during an unloading and the employees were unable to monitor the mechanical gauge attached to the storage tanks. The list of defendants includes the numerous holding companies for Caribbean Petroleum and the Cape Bruny.

Puerto Rico oil explosion lawyers

If you or a loved one were injured or suffered financial damages because of the Puerto Rico oil explosion, The Sanders Firm can help. We will put our expertise in industrial accidents and toxic substance exposure to work for you. Initial case consultations are always complimentary and we do not get paid unless we win your case. Call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY.

  1. CBS News, Gas Plant Explosion Rocks Puerto Rico, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gas-plant-explosion-rocks-puerto-rico/

  2. Jamaica Observer, Caribbean Petroleum Corporation slapped with third suit, https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Carib-petrol

  3. Reuters Africa, UPDATE 1-Caribbean Petroleum files for bankruptcy, https://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFSGE67C0DZ20100813

  4. Leagle, Memorandum and Order in Cruz-Aponte v. Caribbean Petroleum Corp., https://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20FDCO%2020120622D51

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