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Fatal MA Work Explosion Leads AG to Investigate the Delivery of Faulty Propane Across New England

The fatal explosion which occurred during a Massachusetts condominium construction project in July has led the state attorney general to investigate the delivery of faulty propane to locations across New England and New York.

Martha Coakley, the Attorney General, stated that the propane from a facility in Westfield lacks the necessary odorant which alerts homeowners and workers of a possibly dangerous gas leak.

Officials began to inspect propane supplies following the discovery that it was a propane leak which caused the death of a Norfolk construction worker this summer. Other construction workers stated that they did not smell a leak before the explosion occurred. The propane was traced back to a facility in Westfield.

The Attorney General reported that investigators checked the propane at 56 distributers across Massachusetts that received their supply from the Westfield facility. Six of the sites had propane without sufficient odorant.

Propane, which is naturally odorless, must have an odorant added in order to alert individuals of possible leaks. It is the odorant which gives propane its signature “rotten egg” smell.
The Westfield site is owned by a company which is headquartered in Denver.

Martha Coakley stated that she is requiring the Denver company to hire an independent monitor to test and certify that all propane distributed to Massachusetts is in compliance with state law and to alert its customers about any possible risks of propane which did not contain the odorant.

The fire marshal involved in the investigation of the Norfolk blast stated that the odorant could have tipped off the workers to the possibility of the leak.

The fire marshal also suggested that an individual concerned about their supplies of propane should contact their distributor to insure that there propane was not affected. One may also conduct a leak test by spraying the hose and connections with a soapy liquid solution and check for bubbles, which would indicate a leak.

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Source: Mass. AG tracking deliveries of faulty propane, Associated Press, September 3, 2010