53,000 gas grill propane tanks exploded Monday, July 26 at the Blue Rhino gas plant in Tavares, Florida. Blue Rhino is a propane plant that refurbishes and fills 20-pound propane canisters frequently used for gas barbecue grills. It reconditions about 2.5 million cylinders a year. Around twenty-four employees were working on the assembly line when the explosions occurred. The explosions happened away from most of the workers.
Eight workers were injured, four critically and with severe burns. Some of the tanks flew off Blue Rhino’s property, one damaging a nearby home where it blasted through the roof and melted into the carpet. No one was hurt.
Residents within a one-mile radius of the plant were ordered to evacuate their homes, although many residents chose to remain. Many residents are now questioning whether or not they want Blue Rhino to rebuild in the same location.
Investigators initially said it looked like equipment failure or human error could have caused the explosion, but the investigation is still ongoing. The Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have also conducted an investigation and found nothing to suggest criminal activity or sabotage. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it is still continuing its own investigation. OSHA has up to six months from the beginning of its investigation to issue its findings and determine whether any OSHA standards were violated.
The plant had been inspected in early July by the Department of Agriculture and no violations were found. However, the plant did receive a violation from OSHA in 2011 due to an air nozzle that had a missing component.
There will be discussions and inspections before the plant reopens. The city wants the plant to install an automated flooding system to protect three 30,000-gallon propane tanks outside of the facility. Currently, the last person out of the facility in the event of an emergency is required to manually turn on the flooding system, which did not happen. However, the fire caused by the explosion did not harm the larger tanks.
The explosion at the Blue Rhino gas plant is just one example of the kind of accident that can lead to catastrophic personal injury. When tragedy in Florida strikes, its cause is often indiscriminate, but often negligence can be involved.
Wolf & Pravato catastrophic personal injury lawyers have seen myriad forms of negligence, including defective products, premises liability and construction or work-related accidents. No matter the cause, when you or a loved one has sustained serious harm, help from a team of experienced South Florida catastrophic personal injury lawyers is necessary. Our lawyers approach each of its catastrophically injured clients with the understanding of their unique needs and works to assemble the necessary information to get you the help you or your loved one needs.
Our catastrophic personal injury lawyers at Wolf & Pravato understand what’s at stake, and we can help. Contact us for a free, no-obligation and confidential consultation. Justice is not automatic, and we are prepared to fight for you.