CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A local disabled army veteran who lost thousands of dollars worth of tools in a pipeline explosion on Refinery Row in February said he still hasn't been reimbursed for his loss.
Alonzo Cantu said he’ll never forget the morning of Feb. 17. He was standing about 100 yards away when a pipeline owned by MarkWest blew.
“It was pretty crazy; pretty intense,” he said. “It was a pretty intense morning.”
The pipeline inspector was working as a contractor at the CITGO facility when his office was rocked by the explosion.
“(I) actually got to see the whole thing -- from the blow out, to the dirt bubbling up, to the transformer, and blowing out,” he said. “That’s what started the fire.”
Cantu and his co-workers escaped, but had to leave their tools and other belongings behind. The fire destroyed everything.
“It was roughly $14,000 worth of inspection tools, computers, (fire-retardant) jackets, and stuff like that,” he said.
MarkWest was found to be responsible for the explosion. In the nine months since, Cantu said he’s had little luck getting reimbursed for his lost equipment.
“Either they won’t accept my call or the adjuster just gives me the run-around,” he Cantu.
“Veterans In Focus” contacted the adjuster, Daniel Salazar, to find out why Cantu’s claim has been delayed. Salazar said he couldn’t comment on individual claims.
Cantu served in the U.S. Army twice, from 1991-94, and again from 2000, until he was medically discharged in 2004. That’s when the former petroleum-supply specialist transitioned to civilian-petroleum inspection work, but Cantu said he hasn’t been able to work since the explosion.
“It’s kind of putting me behind the eight-ball with no tools,” he said. “Less tools means less chances of me working.”
Cantu said he simply wants to go back to work, and for MarkWest to make things right.
“I’m just trying to replace my tools -- that’s the most important thing for me -- to be able to get back to work, and make me whole again,” he said.
“Veterans In Focus” emailed MarkWest’s parent company, Marathon Oil, but has not received a response.
In the meantime, we connected Cantu with the Texas Veterans Network, who will try to help him replace some of his equipment.