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Safety Board Issues Accident Reports

September 29, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 39

Two workers, an emergency medical technician, and a volunteer firefighter were killed on Jan. 30, 2007, by an explosion from a leaking 500-gal propane tank, compounded by errors made by inexperienced and untrained personnel, according to a report released on Sept. 25 by the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). The accident occurred at Little General Store in Ghent, W.Va., when propane was being transferred to a new storage tank from an illegally located tank abutting the store. When a defective valve caused a leak, the untrained technician was confused and waited 15 minutes before calling 911. During that time, the propane entered the store due to the tank's improper location, and when responders arrived, the tank exploded, resulting in the tragedy. CSB's report recommends better training and supervision for technicians, firefighters, emergency responders, and management, as well as better oversight by state, local, industrial, and trade association officials. The board also released a report on Sept. 18 concerning a solvent-tank-farm fire that occurred on Oct. 29, 2007, at Barton Solvents chemical distribution facility in Des Moines. A static electrical spark from an improperly grounded nozzle and hose assembly used to transfer flammable solvents led to the explosion, which injured an employee and a firefighter.


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