A family in Putnam County, West Virginia is grieving the loss of their husband, father, and friend after a fire and explosion at a chemical plant in Belle, West Virginia. Additionally, two other workers were injured and hospitalized, according to Optima Belle Chemical.

Preliminary information indicates a 1,200-gallon metal dryer became overpressurized during a chemical drying product operation. The material in the dryer was a compound used for sanitation.

Investigations are underway in connection with the blast. There may have been compliance issues when it comes to the public disclosure of the operation being performed. The chemicals involved were believed to be chlorinated dry bleach and methanol.

What Compensation May the Families Be Provided After This Tragedy?

Though no amount of money can ease the pain of so great a loss, a family that has tragically lost a loved one may be eligible for compensation through a wrongful death claim for grief and suffering, lost wages, funeral expenses, medical expenses incurred prior to death, and future lost earnings:

Pain, Suffering, and Grief:Families may be eligible to be compensated for the grief, pain, and suffering they have experienced, and are still experiencing, as they go on without their loved one.

Funeral Expenses:Burial expenses can be significant, often costing thousands of dollars to a family already under financial pressure.

Medical Bills and Expenses:For many families, the medical bills which were incurred can be extremely expensive.

Lost Earnings:When a loved one who was also a financial provider for a family passes away, your grief is compounded by financial suffering. Family members have a right to be compensated for the amount of money that loved one would have been expected to earn in the future if their life had not been cut short.

Punitive Damages:In some cases such as those involving DUI or flagrant safety violations in the workplace, more compensation may be obtained through the legal system to punish the at-fault party in an attempt to prevent this from happening to other families.

Facts Surrounding the Optima Belle Chemical Plant Explosion

The explosion took place at the Optima Belle Chemical plant at around 10 p.m. Tuesday when a 1,200-gallon metal dryer became over-pressurized during a chemical product drying operation, a news release from Optima Belle said.

The material in the dryer was a compound used for sanitization, the company said. The forty-two year old man who died was identified by family members as John Gillenwater, who was a chemical operator, according to Optima Belle.

“John was beloved by many in his community and involved in his church,” the family said in a statement. “John was the sole breadwinner for his family.”

The explosion occurred on part of the property is part of the operations of the company Optima. Carper said the explosion happened along a supply line.

A company witness said, “It’s called a pipe rack where all of these pipings go down to the river and to the barges. It was a massive explosion. It blew metal debris hundreds of feet away from the explosion.”

Related Articles:

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in West Virginia

West Virginia Work Accident Lawyers

Morgantown Wrongful Death Lawyers

Explosion Law in West Virginia


Jeff Robinette professional headshot - West Virginia personal injury attorney
( West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney )

Jeffery Robinette was admitted to practice law in 1991 and is licensed in all levels of state and federal trial courts in West Virginia. Mr. Robinette is also licensed in all state and federal appeals courts in West Virginia and the United States Supreme Court. As a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has handled hundreds of motor vehicle, injury, and construction defect claims and a leading author on insurance claims settlement issues and difficulties in West Virginia, Jeff Robinette is uniquely qualified to represent your best interest.