Immigrant Killed in Gas Station Explosion

http://www.wxyz.com/news/local/story/Explosion-Kills-Man-in-Waterford/7ZB5JUJ3uEmJvQSt2QB8Ww.cspx

As I was driving to Lowe’s yesterday, I passed this Sunoco station where lots of emergency vehicles filled the lot.  I could see that some excavation had taken place, but couldn’t make out what was going on.  On the way home again, I could see the news vans from the local TV stations with cameras rolling and news reports in progress. 

It wasn’t until the local news came on at 5 PM that I found out what had happened.  It seems that a crew of four workers had been hired to work on an old underground tank.  A worker down in a ten-foot hole apparently struck a spark that caused an explosion, blowing him twenty feet into the air and killing him. 

When police and the fire department arrived on the scene, their investigation had to be delayed while finding an English-Arab interpreter, because not a single one of the four-worker crew spoke a word of English.  (Some of this is detail that came out during the television broadcast, and isn’t included in the web site report of incident.) 

It’s highly likely that the company that hired this crew did a poor job of providing safety training and proper safety procedures when none of the workers could understand English.  And how in the world could these people have possibly communicated with the gas station personnel to verify whether the tank had been cleared and properly isolated?  It’s outrageous that this kind of thing goes on, putting the public safety at risk by allowing immigrants to take jobs for which they’re clearly not qualified.  This particular gas station is on a very busy intersection and the station is situated very close to the street.  It’s fortunate that innocent passers-by weren’t also killed. 

I’ll keep you posted if details emerge about the legality of these immigrants and the culpability of the company who hired them.

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3 Responses to Immigrant Killed in Gas Station Explosion

  1. Gordon says:

    I think your comment on the issue of qualifications is the single most important point. The early reports indicated the worker was attempting to open a (gasoline?) storage tank with a cutting tool. Upon first hearing this from my wife (I was out of town at the time) my first thought was that someone really screwed up.

    Clearly, the economic situation in this country has degenerated to the point where the lowest cost is THE most important factor rather than safety or quality. We should all be thankful that innocent bystanders were not injured or killed because of the stupidity of the workers and, more importantly, the stupidity of the owners of the Sunoco station.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Gordon. I wouldn’t characterize the immigrant workers as stupid – just untrained and illiterate (in terms of their grasp of the English language). The owners of the station are culpable for using a company with illiterate workers. They should have run them off as soon as they showed up for the job. But the real stupidity lies with the people who craft and implement our immigration policy and the agencies charged with overseeing companies engaged in the kind of work these guys were doing.

  2. ClydeB says:

    One death is too many, but this appears to be a case of “dodging a bullet”. There could have been many more.
    Having worked with and around gasoline for several years, I can’t believe the gross negligence of the owner, the contractor, the local regulating authority and the crew. The most uninformed, uneducated and careless adult person in the world knows to be afraid of gasoline.

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