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Gas Explosion in Norfolk Result of ‘Odorant Fade’

State fire investigators revealed on December 29, 2010, that a gas explosion which killed an electrician and injured three other workers and two firefighters last July at a Norfolk condominium building could have been prevented by the company in charge of filling the tank.

Workers at the site said they did not smell gas before the blast. That can occur when the chemical that gives propane its distinctive “rotten eggs” smell fades over time. Odorant fade can occur in new tanks or tanks that have run dry and are only partially filled. The 1,000-gallon tank at the condominium construction site had only 200 gallons of propane in it at the time of the explosion.

According to the report, the company that delivered the gas to the condominium project was Energy USA in Taunton. Records show a delivery of 200 gallons on April 29 despite a warning label on the side of the tank that clearly stated the tank should not be partially filled. Energy USA told investigators that only a small amount of gas was delivered because it was a construction area and the gas meters had not been installed.

The family of William Nichols, the 46-year-old electrician killed in the explosion, is planning to pursue a lawsuit against Energy USA.

Source: Report: Mass. blast not the fault of gas company, Boston Globe, December 29, 2010
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