The family of a Blackstone electrician who was killed in a propane blast two years ago has entered into a $7.5 million settlement. William Nichols, 46, was working on a heating and air conditioning system in Norfolk, Va., in July 2010 when a propane tank exploded without warning. The blast was traced to a gas leak that could not be detected because there was no odorant, which is the additive that allows folks to smell leaking gas. The lawsuit alleged that EnergyUSA under-filled a new propane tank, causing the chemical odorant which had been added to fade. This made the leaking propane odorless and undetectable. Smolinsky Plumbing and Heating allegedly failed to tighten a connection that led to the leak. Investigators said the propane had “virtually no odorant.”
Nichols suffered burns over 80% of his body. His family and two other people who were injured in the explosion reached the settlement with Energy USA and Smolinksy Brothers Plumbing for a total of $22.5 million. The state fire marshal’s office is now proposing new regulations including training for anyone handling propane – and that includes those who use gas grills. These regulations should increase public awareness about the potential safety threat of un-odorized propane in commercial and residential settings. Leaking propane gas, especially when the odorant fades out of the gas, can cause a serious explosion. Marc L. Breakstone, a Boston lawyer with Breakstone, White & Gluck, represented the Nichols’ family in this case which was filed against the two companies in January 2011. He did a very good job for his clients.
Source: CBS News
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