Marathon Petroleum’s Galveston Bay refinery experienced a fire on Monday, May 15th. The incident resulted in visible flames, and unfortunately, at least one worker lost their life, the company confirmed. Marathon has yet to identify the source of the fire, and an investigation will be initiated to discover its cause.
News outlets covering the event shared aerial footage that showed emergency crews working to extinguish the flames at the facility. The Marathon-owned refinery is situated in a stretch of the Texas coast that is densely populated by petrochemical enterprises. Citizens were concerned about a potential explosion and the accompanying toxic contamination that could have major impacts on the environment and public health.
At the time of writing, the company and local authorities had not yet released statements regarding whether anybody else was harmed. The Marathon Petroleum site had earlier disclosed that they had accounted for all workers shortly after the incident.
An official statement from Marathon Petroleum highlighted their commitment to safety. The message read, “The safety of our workers and the community is our top priority, and a full investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the incident.” Texas City police confirmed that the fire had been contained within the facility, and by Monday afternoon, emergency responders declared that they had the measure under control.
Periodic fires in the area of oil refineries are not unusual. Just a few weeks ago, a Shell facility in Deer Park halted operations due to a fire that sent nine workers to the hospital and released large plumes of smoke. In March, INEOS Phenol’s Pasadena-based facility experienced an explosion and fire incident, causing injuries.
The Marathon Petroleum incident has brought the attention of environmentalists, workers unions, and government watchdogs to the safety and environmental record of oil refineries in the greater Texas area. Citizens are now calling for greater accountability on the part of oil refineries, regulation agencies, and lawmakers. While Marathon and other enterprises may have insurance to cover the cost of these incidents, the health and safety of workers and residents should be the top priority.