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Man Sues In New Mexico Refinery Explosion

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 08, 2010 9:50 AM

A lawsuit has been filed for occupational injuries sustained by the survivor of a deadly New Mexico oil refinery explosion which occurred earlier this month.

The welding accident caused the death of two men in the city of Artesia, New Mexico on March 2, when a tar tank exploded at the Artesia facility, shortly after lunch. According to authorities, warning sirens sounded just before 1 PM on the day of the explosion. The refinery was evacuated upon the sounding of the sirens.  

As reported by the AP, the two deceased were identified as Natividad Andajo of Odessa, Texas and Victor Villa of Midland, Texas. One body was found on the site, but the other is missing and presumed dead.  

One of the two injured survivors, Juan Carlos Hermosillo, aka Elias Aleman, sustained occupational injuries of the face, arms, and back, including several fractures and lacerations.  The 24-year old plaintiff claims that the plant failed to follow reasonable measures to ensure safety, failing to follow proper safety procedures in preventing occupational injuries.  The lawsuit also alleges that the plant was negligent in authorizing work that led to the accident and that the site was not properly inspected prior to the accident. Aleman claims that he returned from lunch, ignited his welder and the tank exploded.   

The refinery, located at the intersection of two busy Artesia highways, refines oil into diesel, gas, jet fuel and various other products. Owned by Dallas-based Holly Corporation, the plant operates 24 hours and has the capacity to process approximately 95,000 barrels of oil a day.  Given the nature of the incident, both Federal and state investigators are on the case, investigating the charred debris that is left in the aftermath of the accident.   

Aleman is seeking unspecified damages.

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