Articles Posted in Oil & Gas Explosions

Amarjit Khunkhun was a 43-year-old truck driver when he was found burned to death in the cab of his truck owned by his employer, GMG Trucking of Fresno, Calif. Khunkhun was survived by his wife and three children. The state fire investigators found that the fire started inside the cab and concluded that Khunkhun’s use of a portable stove might have caused the fire. No stove or propane tanks were found in the cab during the investigation.

Khunkhun’s family, with the assistance of attorneys Bill Robins, Hector Longoria, Mohinder S. Mann and Gruinder S. Mann, filed a lawsuit against GMG Trucking and its owners. The family’s attorneys also hired a fire cause-and-origin expert. That investigation showed the fire started beneath the truck, not by a stove or propane tanks. A truck mechanic expert determined that transmission fluid had leaked from the truck’s transmission, where it was ignited by the cab’s exhaust system and other hot components. Because of the fire underneath the cab, carbon monoxide vapors leaked into the cab where Khunkhun was left unconscious, and then the truck cab burst into flames resulting in Khunkhun’s death.

The lawsuit brought against GMG Trucks and its owners alleged negligent maintenance and inspection of the trucks. The family alleged that the owners were aware of the transmission leak in the tractor, but chose not to repair it in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

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Pengxuan Diao rented a converted garage. An employee of Southern California Gas Co. arrived while Diao was sleeping to perform maintenance. The gas company employee opened a gas valve that activated an uncapped gas line running to the garage where Diao was sleeping. The Southern California Gas Co. employee left the property without ensuring that the line was free of leaks.

A leak in the gas line caused gas to accumulate in the garage. Two hours after the leak began, Diao awoke and lit a cigarette, which triggered the gas explosion.

Diao, age 24, suffered second and third-degree burns over more than 20% of his body, including his head, torso, arms and right leg. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury from lack of oxygen, the concussive force of the explosion and from the carbon monoxide poisoning.

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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revised its reporting requirements when an employee dies on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. If an employee is severely injured, employers will now be required to immediately notify OSHA of the work-related fatality within 8 hours and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye within 24 hours. This shortened the timing that employers are required to notify OSHA of these serous injuries.

In the past, OSHA was required to report only work fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. In other words, if only one employee died or was seriously injured at work, no report to OSHA was required.

The new reporting rule goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015 and is particularly directed at workplaces under federal OSHA jurisdiction. This would exempt companies who employ 10 or fewer individuals regardless of the industry classification.

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A BP gas station was having its above-ground storage tank filled with gasoline by a petroleum company and its driver. David Cowles, 61, was the delivery driver for a petroleum company filling the storage tank at the BP gas station when one of the tanks overflowed. The gasoline vapors ignited and a massive explosion erupted. Cowles suffered second and third-degree burns, including severe burns to his arms. He was hospitalized for weeks in a burn unit and required multiple debridement and skin-graft surgical procedures.

Cowles filed a lawsuit against the company that owned the gasoline station, claiming that it had chosen not to use an accurate method for measuring its gasoline inventory. Usually underground gasoline tanks are measured by a long stick inserted in the tank opening to determine the gasoline levels.

During the discovery process of the case, Cowles learned that the gas station calculated its inventory using “net volume” method, which is used in the industry for purchasing gasoline; it is determined by the volume of gas at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Gasoline expands with heat.

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