The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently released a report on the findings of its investigation into a 2016 fatal explosion in downtown Canton, Illinois (). The report indicated that a contractor was in violation of state law when it caused a natural gas rupture and subsequent explosion that killed one person and injured 11 others.
Sure Shot Communications workers were attempting to install underground fiber-optic cable when they inadvertently severed a gas line near the Opera House Professional Center annex, which later exploded. Sure Shot failed to excavate a concrete sidewalk prior to drilling, despite an Illinois law requirement that drilling must be inspected visually while in progress.
“Unfortunately, it has come to light that this tragedy was entirely avoidable and occurred as the result of the circumvention of state laws that were put in place to keep our communities safe,” said U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL).
The NTSB’s report also found that:
Sure Shot and Ameren, an Illinois gas delivery company, failed to evacuate the area adequately after the discovery of the gas line breach.
Sure Shot and Mid Century Communications did not have a written contract for work, a written project plan, or an emergency response plan.
The leader of the Sure Shot team was in his first day of field work.
No one from Sure Shot or Ameren called the 911 emergency telephone number.
“I was shocked at the lack of training the people had there,” said Canton Mayor Kent McDowell. “That’s the first thing that jumped out at me right away.”
Rep. Bustos’ office had been attempting to expedite the process for months, but the NTSB’s report was not released until more than two years after the incident. “My hope is that the conclusion of this investigation will help provide clarity about what happened, bring closure to the community, and help them move past this tragic loss,” said Bustos.
These kinds of senseless tragedies involving gas line explosions are becoming far too common.
It is imperative that the NTSB and other safety agencies ensure that all laws and regulations are followed at these potentially deadly work sites.
If you have been injured in a natural gas explosion, it is essential that you hire an experienced attorney to protect your rights. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.