Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion in Corpus Christi Kills 2, Investigation & Lawsuits UnderwayAugust 24, 2020
Raging Fire at the Port of Corpus Christi Leaves Death & Destruction in Its Wake
Just past 8:05 a.m., the explosion occurred when a dredging vessel struck a submerged propane pipeline along refinery row. The blast engulfed the vessel and the pipeline in flames. Soon after, the grain elevator was also ablaze.
According to the chief executive of the Port of Corpus Christi, Sean Strawbridge, the pipeline damage was secured Friday. The vessel fire raged for several hours, however.
In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reported that the vessel fire reignited after it was first put out on Friday afternoon. It wasn’t until about 10 p.m.—about 14 hours after the explosion—that the fire was extinguished completely. Then, the vessel sank.
USCG Calls Off Search for the Missing
In the immediate aftermath of the Corpus Christi pipeline explosion, four of the vessel’s crew members were missing. As first responders searched for the missing, six injured people were transported to local hospitals for emergency medical care.
By Saturday morning, two of the missing crew members’ bodies were recovered. By Saturday evening, the search for the other two still missing was called off.
In announcing the decision to end the search, Capt. Edward Gaynor, commander, Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi, stated:
Our Coast Guard crews worked intently alongside state and local partners to locate the two crew members who remained missing, but unfortunately, we were unable to locate them… The decision to suspend a search is never easy and a lot of factors are considered before suspending a search. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the friends and families of the missing crew members during this difficult time.
Authorities Focus on Identifying the Cause of the Blast & the Scope of the Damage
The horrific pipeline explosion at Corpus Christi has left many victims and questions in its wake. Now, investigators from USCG, local and state agencies, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are working to find answers.
Specifically, they are looking to discover why the vessel struck the pipeline, how the explosion was triggered, and how the fire spread.
As the investigation continues, authorities have also taken action to assess the potential impacts of the explosion to the environment.
Brooke West, a spokesperson for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, has stated that no air pollution has been discovered in air quality tests conducted so far and that water testing has been planned.
Corpus Christi Pipeline Explosion Lawsuits Already Filed
As fresh as this tragedy is for survivors and the families of the deceased and missing victims, some have already moved forward to seek justice in civil court. So far, three lawsuits have already been filed against Orion Marine Group, the Houston-based marine construction contractor that owned and operated the vessel involved in the oil and gas accident.
According to the latest reports, two of these cases are each seeking $50 million on behalf of the victims killed in the Corpus Christi pipeline explosion. The other lawsuit, seeking $10 million, was reportedly filed on behalf of a survivor who sustained severe burn injuries.
As the investigation uncovers more about how this blast occurred, additional cases may soon follow.