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NPGA Gas Check Program

The propane explosion which killed Edgar Brummett  of White County, Georgia was entirely preventable. According to published reports, the Georgia Propane Explosion was caused by a propane leak at a home in the Mt. Yonah Scenic Estates. A day prior to the explosion, the homeowner called the local propane gas supplier to report a leak, and also to report unusual propane usage over a short period of time…..strong evidence of a leak in the propane gas system. The propane company ignored, or, according to published reports, “disputed” the homeowners call about a leaking propane gas system and possible propane gas leak.

For decades, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) has known about the dangers of gas leaks and the need to properly and thoroughly inspect a propane gas system when a customer reports a leak, gas service is initiated, or there is a change in tenancy at the property. As noted in the document below, in 1985, the NPGA developed and implemented its “GAS Check” program. The GAS Check program was an industry wide effort to reduce (or, eliminate) residential propane accidents. This was done with consumer and dealer education, and detailed propane dealer training. The Gas Check Program works to prevent propane explosions by provider rules and guidelines for:

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A propane explosion in White County, Georgia killed Edgar Brummett. Mr. Brummett was at his grandson’s house in Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia, potentially investigating a suspected propane leak. Apparently, the 120 gallon ASME propane tank had been filled in December, and was already “out of gas” despite low use.

Suspecting an obvious gas leak, the homeowner apparently called the propane company, reported a gas leak, and the propane disputed the homeowners call. An “out of gas” call from a homeowner reporting a leak is a big, big deal in the propane world, and the local propane distributor (Tugalo gas) absolutely had a duty to red-tag the propane system and conduct a full system leak check AND pressure check pursuant to NFPA 58, the LP gas code.

The propane industry has known, for years, of the dangers and hazards of an “out of gas” system and a homeowner report of a leak. Often after accidents such as the one in Sautee Nacoochee, the propane company will be on the scene of the accident within hours, gathering propane samples to determine if the gas was adequately odorized and determining whether the system was up to code.

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A trackhoe operated by an outside contractor punctured a portion of the Colonial Pipeline in Shelby, Alabama, causing a massive fuel-fed explosion, killing one and sending six to the hospital. The trackhoe was apparently excavating over the pipeline during repair work related to a previous leak which occurred two months ago.

The Colonial Pipeline Explosion has caused fuel shortages up and down the east coast, and caused gas prices to rise. Atlanta based Colonial Pipeline has been cited twice by federal investigators since September by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Pipeline safety remains a serious problem, as shown by the recent Alabama pipeline explosion .

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Two people–a father and a son—were injured last week in a tragic gas can explosion. Heath Grayley and his 5 year old son Kyler were severely injured when a gas can exploded. According to published reports, neighbors heard a loud “boom” which sounded like a bomb.

Gas can explosions are entirely preventable through the use of a flame arrester. Flame arresting technology has been around for centuries.

Jonah Flynn is a gas can explosion lawyer who has collected millions on behalf of gas can explosion victims.

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On February 7, there was a massive explosion at the JCG Feed Mill in Rockmart, Georgia, killing one. Eight people were inside the mill when it exploded. Those injured includ 19-year-old Dallas Holcombe, who was injured trying to rescue co-worker Tyler Morgan. Morgan remains in critical condition. Randy Dodd, James Lentz, and a third unidentified man all remain hospitalized.

Initial reports indicate the JCG Feed Mill explosion could be heard up to a mile from the plant, indicating that this was a massive explosion. Because this explosion involves a workplace death, OSHA will investigate the cause of the explosion and, more likely than not, issue citations to the controlling employer of the feed mill.

JCG Feed Mill was purchased by Koch Foods in 2013, after the bankruptcy of Cagle’s, Inc. The Feed Mill was used to support Koch Foods poultry operations in Georgia.

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On Saturday, January 16 the PeroxyChem Plant in Pasadena Texas exploded, killing one and injuring three others. The origin of the explosion, according to initial reports, was a storage tank used to store cleaning solution. One witness sitting in his truck outside the plant stated he felt the explosion vibration in his chest. Initial reports indicate that a contractor’s equipment exploded because it had been over pressurized.

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A workplace accident at Zodiac Cabin & Structure Support in Newport, Washington in July of 2015 has led to a massive 1.3M fine. Seventeen Workers were injured in the flammable vapors explosion at the aerospace plant after a defective curing oven (which should not have been in service) exploded.

Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries issued 17 willful violations and 18 serious violations for Zodiac’s failure to require safety interlocks and safeguards to ensure curing ovens were used safely.

In Washington, employers may be liable in tort for injuries to their employees if the employer is found guilty of intentional negligence. In Birklid v. Boeing, “intentional injuries” were broadened to include injuries where the employer had actual knowledge that an injury was certain to occur and willfully disregarded that knowledge. Employees may, under certain circumstances, bring a civil action against their employer in Washington. Such an action could be an option to the Zodiac workers involved in the July 2015 explosion.

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The Flynn Law Firm is pleased to announce the settlement of a Blitz gas can explosion and water heater explosion lawsuit filed in Dougherty County, Georgia which was recently featured in the Fulton County Daily Report.

Gas Can Water Heater Explosion Settlement – FCDR.pdf

On July 1, 2009, Jessica and Jeremiah Fenn leased a home from Jason Lawson and Lawson Investments in Albany, Georgia. The home was a traditional ranch house with no garage. It did have, however, a utility room that housed the washing machine, dryer, and a water heater manufactured by American Water Heater Company in 1998. Because there was no garage to store lawn equipment or gas cans, the Fenns stored those items in the utility room.

On the night of July 24, 2009 the Fenn children, after being put to bed, got up and made their way to the utility room of the home, apparently looking for their mother. There were two 2.5-gallon gas cans manufactured by Blitz U.S.A. stored in the utility room, one of which was knocked over by one of the Fenn children. The Blitz gas cans, unfortunately, were initially equipped with childproof caps that fell off the cans shortly after purchase in 2008. The AWHC water heater in the utility room was equipped with a defective “open pilot/open burner” system, which, because the water heater was not elevated (in violation of local building codes), was mounted within the device at floor level. Once the gas can without any cap on the spout was tipped, an explosive vapor/air mixture formed in the utility room which was ignited by the pilot and/or burner on the AWHC water heater. This lead to a low order explosion, severely burning the Fenn children
Prior to 2002, water-heaters used an “open pilot, open burner” design which left the pilot and burner of the device exposed to flammable vapors. After 2002, the water heater industry changed its design to include a flame arrester covering its pilot and burner to prevent the explosion of flammable vapors. In order for a gas-fired “open pilot, open burner” water heater to actually heat the water in its tank, the water heater must take in air from its base, often two inches from the ground, and pass the air directly over a pilot flame. Flammable liquids (such as gas) give off flammable vapors that are generally heavier than air. These vapors sink to the ground and when the water heater is functioning normally, will be sucked in by the water heater when it draws in combustion air. The vapors are then ignited, and the resulting fire can cause substantial burn injuries to those in the vicinity of the water heater.
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Gas cans—found in just about half of American homes–continue to injure and maim consumers. Despite industry and scientific knowledge concerning flame arresters and their ability to prevent “flash back” explosions, portable gasoline container retailers and manufacturers have not instituted flame arresters into the design of the portable gasoline container or recalled defective gas cans which do not contain flame arresters.

The Flynn Law Firm recently filed a gas can explosion lawsuit on behalf of a burn victim in Oregon. The lawsuit—against Wal-Mart–alleges that :

The subject gas can sold by Wal-Mart was defective and unsafe for its intended
purposes at the time it left control of the Defendant in that the gas can lacked any form of flame arrester, a necessary safety device that would have prevented the explosion and resulting injuries.

Prior to the incident that injured the Plaintiff, the Defendant knew or should have
known that gasoline containers that lack flame arresters are susceptible to flashback explosions.Wal-Mart was engaged in the business of designing, marketing, distributing and
selling the can to consumers within the stream of commerce. Wal-Mart marketed, distributed and sold the can that caused Plaintiff’s injuries.

Wal-Mart expected the can to ultimately reach the residential consumer and/or
user without substantial change in the condition in which it was originally sold. The subject gas can did in fact reach Plaintiff without a substantial change in the condition in which it was originally sold by Wal-Mart and unexpectedly failed under ordinary and foreseeable use. The can was not modified or altered after it left Defendant’s control, and Plaintiff was utilizing the can in a foreseeable and reasonable manner in which the can was reasonably expected to be used.

At the time the can left Defendant’s control, and at all times complained of herein,
safer alternative designs were available that would have eliminated the risk of the subject gas can exploding without substantially impairing the usefulness and intended purpose of the product.

The can was defective and unsafe for its intended purposes at the time it left
Defendant’s control in that design failed to include a flame arrestor device, which is a necessary safety device that would have prevented Plaintiff’s catastrophic burn injuries.

Wal-Mart knew or should have known of the can’s susceptibility to flashback and
explosion, which occurs when gasoline vapors outside the can ignite and the flames follow the vapor trail back into the can, causing and explosion of the can and a release of burning gasoline and vapors and/or a flame thrower effect where burning vapors and liquid explode out of the can.

The can was unreasonably dangerous and defective in its design and manufacture
because it did not incorporate a flame arrestor, a technologically and economically feasible safety device that would have prevented the explosion in the present case, thereby increasing the risk of an explosion. Wal-Mart failed to warn Plaintiff of the defective condition of the can and that cans such as the one Plaintiff purchased may explode if there is a flashback that follows the gasoline vapors back to the can.

A flame arrestor, sometimes called a flame arresting screen, flash arrestor or spark
arrestor, is a small metal device that is placed in a container’s openings and allows liquids to flow out of the container but prevents the flashback of flames back into the container. The device consists of either a perforated metal disk or a wire mesh screen.
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OSHA has fined four companies related to the Omega Protein explosion in Moss Point, Mississippi last year. According to news reports, Accu-Fab & Construction, Omega Protein, JP Williams Machine and Fabrication, and Global Employment were all fined, with fines totaling $187,620.

According to OSHA, the fines were levied because the workers injured in the explosion has no training to know the storage tank beneath them contained explosive methane and hydrogen sulfide gasses. The citation highlights the need to verify and remediation fire and explosion hazards in industrial settings. Jerry Lee Taylor, 25, of Helena, Mississippi, was killed in the explosion. Josh Walls, 34; Clay Davis, 40; and Lloyd McGill were injured.