Largely due to antiquated architecture and living in buildings as old as the dinosaurs, a significant proportion of Taiwanese residents and businesses rely on propane cylinders to provide gas.
In what I felt was somewhat of an worrying set up, the stores dispensing these cylinders are routinely set up in Taiwan’s densely packed residential areas. It was only mid last year that I considered the possibility of one of these stores exploding.
In the comments that followed the article I learnt that I might have been overreacting a bit and that, contrary to my belief that storing huge amounts of compressed gas in residential areas was probably a bad idea, that it was safer than I’d first perceived.
Add to that the fact that I couldn’t recall hearing about one of these cylinder depots having any problems since I got here and I was content to try to get along with Taiwan’s gas cylinder industry.
…well, I was until I read one of them recently blew up.
Down in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung, staff at a gas cylinder depot were fixing one of the cylinders, when they dropped it causing it to explode.
Situated smack bang in a residential area, the explosion spread to nearby buildings but luckily nobody except the staff was injured. The staff member who dropped the cylinder suffered severe burns to 50% of his body and is in a critical condition.
Following the blaze an investigation revealed the depot owner, Hon Tai Yin (洪泰銀), had illegally stored 81 gas cylinders on the premises, with the legal limit being just 6.
Charged with endangering public safety, Yin is facing a year in jail and civil damages claims from his neighbours.
The real kick in the nuts though?
The store had been operating as a gas depot for thirty years and had previously been fined in 2006 ($50,000 TWD) and as recently as 2012 (another $50,000 TWD) for having too many cylinders onsite.
In his defense Lin, who bought the business a decade ago, stated that it was impossible to run a gas cylinder business and only keep 6 cylinders onsite.
Looking at the bigger picture, how exactly the cylinder caught on fire escapes me. I’m not sure exactly what the staff were repairing (or if they were even qualified to do so) but whatever they were doing, following the impact after dropping it – that’s what seems to have caused the kaboom.
Tell me this was a rare occurence or freak accident all you want. You couldn’t pay me to live anywhere near one of Taiwan’s residential deathtrap gas cylinder depots.
Source: Apple Daily