Propane Explosions

Propane is an extremely flammable gas that millions of Americans use every single day.  Like so many things that we use on a daily basis, we forget about the potential dangers that propane can cause.  If not handled correctly and treated with respect, propane can cause dangerous, even deadly explosions.

The Explosion Resource Center would like to provide you with information about propane explosions involving:

  • Pipeline Explosions
  • Tank Explosions

Additionally, we would like to provide you with information that can help you prevent explosions before they happen, both at home and in the workplace.  For more information, contact the propane explosion lawyers.

Propane Explosions in the Workplace

Propane is used in a wide variety of industries, from glass companies to brick kilns to agricultural centers.  In these environments, propane is often stored in larger containers, making the potential for a large explosion even greater.  If a propane tank isn’t properly cared for, a leak could develop that the smallest spark could set off.

Many workers are expected to handle propane on a regular basis.  Hotel workers, restaurant employees, and agricultural laborers use propane every day for a variety of purposes.  If you’ve been injured on the job because of a propane explosion, your employer may be at fault and you could be entitled to financial compensation.

Propane Explosions in the Home

Propane is heavier than air, and leaks can cause it to collect and settle in low enclosed areas.  The smallest spark or stray flame can cause this gas to ignite, causing widespread damage.  People often leave their propane tanks stored carelessly in basements, where any leak could cause the explosive gas to collect around the ground, where a furnace or water heater could cause it to ignite.

It is recommended that you store any propane cylinders upright outside on a dry, flat, non-flammable surface such as concrete.  If stored in a damp area, the cylinders may corrode, potentially causing a leak.

Propane Pipeline Explosions

Pipelines cover our landscape to transport a number of different fluids and gases. Most pipelines carry water, oil, or natural gas. “Natural gas” may refer to a number of different gases, such as methane, butane, and propane.

Pipelines that contain gases such as propane may explode if they are improperly maintained. If you or someone you love suffered an injury after a propane pipeline exploded, contact the propane pipeline explosion lawyers.

Causes of Explosions

Pipelines may explode for any number of reasons, most of which relate to structural or manufacturing defects in the pipeline itself. Causes for propane pipeline explosions include:

  • Weak metal
  • Poorly welded joints
  • Stress fractures
  • Corrosion

When these problems occur, propane may escape the pipeline. If the propane comes into contact with a spark, which the pipeline itself may sometimes cause, an explosion may occur. Explosions may damage property, as well as severely injure any people within the blast radius.

Whoever built the pipeline or whoever currently owns the rights to it may be liable for any injuries resulting from a pipeline explosion. Typically, individuals must prove that a poorly maintained pipeline was the cause of their injuries, which may require expert witnesses such as chemical or mechanical engineers. An experienced propane pipeline explosion lawyer can also help with this process.

Propane Tank Explosions

Propane is usually stored and transported in large tanks. Many Americans use propane in cylindrical tanks to heat their grills or fuel heaters. Other individuals have large propane tanks outside of their homes to power many of their home appliances.

Unfortunately, negligently handled or constructed propane tanks may be prone to devastating accidents. If you or someone you love was injured in an accident involving a propane tank explosion, contact the propane tank explosion lawyers to learn more about your legal rights.

Explosion Causes

Propane tanks will never spontaneously combust. In fact, most tanks are constructed so that even outside factors will not affect the contents inside of the tanks. Usually, an explosion results from a fault or from negligence, which may include:

  • Manufacturing Defect
  • Poor Maintenance/Installation
  • Dangerous Transportation
  • Improper Disposal

Any of these errors may cause a tank to leak. When the gas comes into contact with a spark, it will ignite. In some cases, the flame may follow the gas into the tank, which is when an explosion occurs. This is a very dangerous event that may lead to serious injury or even death for individuals who fall within the blast radius.

Propane Tank Manufacturing Defects

Propane tanks serve an important purpose. They provide a convenient means for storing the highly flammable gas and make it easier to transport it quickly. These tanks must be built to withstand a number of conditions to keep the gas from being exposed to potential hazards.

Unfortunately, some tanks are poorly manufactured, which may lead to accidents that cause the propane to explode.

Potential Defects

Propane tanks come in many different sizes for many different purposes. Some tanks are small and portable to fuel gas grills and personal heaters. Others are large and permanent, often to power appliances such as stoves and furnaces.

Regardless of its size or purpose, a tank must be able to perform the same basic functions. These functions are:

  • Shielding propane from heat and sparks
  • Relieving excess pressure if gas expands

Tanks that fail to do this, either because their safety valves are broken, they are improperly shielded, or have weak welds, may be at a greater risk for exploding than tanks that properly perform their functions.

Poor Maintenance & Installation

Many individuals use propane tanks in their homes and businesses to power appliances and heaters. In some cases, these tanks are used when individuals live too far away from manufacturing plants to have natural gas lines installed in their homes. When these tanks are poorly maintained or installed, they may be at greater risk for exploding.

Dangers of Poor Tank Maintenance & Installation

Since propane tanks are designed to store propane and shield it against heat and sparks, it is important that they are routinely inspected and maintained. Additionally, it is important that the tanks are properly installed to reduce explosion risks.

When propane tanks are not maintained, they have the potential to suffer from faults over time. Their safety release valves may fail or welds may weaken. This increases the risk of excessive heat or sparks entering the tank, which could ignite the gas and cause an explosion.

If the tank is poorly installed in the first place, though, it may shift rather than remain stationary. This could agitate the gas and make it more likely to explode.

Sadly, injuries resulting from propane tank explosions can be catastrophic. Individuals affected by propane tank explosions resulting from another party’s negligence may be entitled to financial compensation to help with recovery.

Dangerous Transportation

Propane is a useful natural gas that many people burn to heat their homes and power their appliances. In order to get propane to people’s homes, the gas is often stored in tanks and transported by commercial truck or railroad. Due to the highly volatile nature of propane, it is important that is it carefully transported.

Negligent Propane Transportation

Before being transported, propane tanks should be thoroughly inspected for flaws and leaks. Because of its flammability, propane could ignite on a motor vehicle or railroad if the tanks holding the gas are not properly sealed, as these vehicles often produce great amounts of heat.

In addition to the tanks being in proper working order, the vehicle transporting the tanks must also be mechanically sound. A faulty vehicle may be at a greater risk for an accident. In the event of an accident, propane could be placed in conditions that make it more prone to exploding.

Individuals who have been injured because of negligent propane transportation practices should speak with an experienced lawyer to learn if they may be entitled to financial compensation.

Contact Us

Propane explosions are a serious danger, whether in the home or in the workplace.  They can cause serious injury or even death to people in the vicinity.  If you or someone you love has been injured in a propane explosion, we can help you get the information you need and can help you move forward.

We strive to provide people with the information they need following a propane explosion.  To learn more about your rights and options, contact propane explosion injury attorneys.