Lithium Battery Fire at Port of Oakland, California

by | May 14, 2024 | Industrial Accident, Maritime Law

There was a fire at a facility at the Port of Oakland, California on May 12, 2024.  According to reports, a fire broke out in a facility containing lithium batteries on Sunday.  Additional details have not yet been released.  It is unclear if anyone working at the port was injured as a result of the fire.

Lithium batteries are prevalent in modern electronics due to their high energy density and long lifespan, powering everything from smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles and renewable energy systems. However, despite their advantages, lithium batteries pose significant fire risks that can lead to serious safety concerns. These risks stem primarily from thermal runaway, a condition where an increase in temperature within the battery cell leads to a self-sustaining series of reactions that further increase the temperature, potentially leading to a fire or explosion.

The composition of lithium batteries contributes to their fire hazards. They contain highly flammable electrolytes and, under certain conditions such as physical damage, overcharging, or manufacturing defects, these electrolytes can ignite. Once ignited, a lithium battery fire is intense and difficult to extinguish, as it can generate enough heat to cause adjacent cells to also undergo thermal runaway, resulting in a larger fire. Traditional firefighting methods are often ineffective against lithium battery fires, requiring specific procedures and agents to safely manage them.

The danger of lithium battery fires is not limited to the risk of flames alone. These fires can release toxic gases, including carbon monoxide, hydrogen fluoride, and compounds of phosphorus, which pose serious health risks when inhaled. For environments packed with electronic devices, such as offices, homes, and even electric vehicles, a lithium battery fire can therefore be doubly hazardous, threatening both immediate physical safety and long-term health. Proper handling, regular maintenance of devices containing these batteries, and adherence to manufacturer guidelines for charging and storage are critical to mitigating the risks associated with lithium batteries.

There have been a number of incidents at industrial and manufacturing plants.  There was a fire at Phillips 66’s Complex in Borger, Texas on April 1, 2024.  There was an explosion at the Targa gas plant in Greenwood, Texas on April 16, 2024.  There was a flash fire at the Kinder Morgan facility in Galena Park, Texas on April 19, 2024.  There was a deadly accident at the RSM Company processing plant in Slaton, Texas on April 25, 2024.  There was a deadly explosion and fire at the Superior Signal manufacturing plant in Old Bridge Township, New Jersey on May 1, 2024.

Those touched by an industrial accident should know their legal rights and remedies, and act quickly to preserve them. Our attorneys have extensive experience in cases involving industrial and plant personal injury and wrongful death, including those caused by equipment malfunctioning.  The firm has experience in courts across the country and the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or as a result of an explosion, or been seriously injured.

The experienced attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an accident at a plant or refinery.  Please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your legal rights.