Home > CO2, Safety > Old fashion, high pressure CO2 cylinder explodes at Michigan bar

Old fashion, high pressure CO2 cylinder explodes at Michigan bar

The afternoon of June 25 was pretty much like any other for Dorothy Sullivan and the patrons of her Eastpointe bar.

Until the building exploded.
“Everybody thought a bomb went off,” said Sullivan, who owns the bar of the same name on Nine Mile Road. “… It blew up two or three rooms.”

No bomb detonated, but the results were similar when a C02 (carbon dioxide) tank exploded. The pressurized containers are devices that put carbonation in drinks. They’re used mostly by bar and restaurant owners as part of their normal operations.

But the exploding tank was anything but normal. Sullivan estimated damages to her bar at $100,000, and the incident drew the attention of local and federal authorities, who have launched an investigation.

“It was impressive to see (the damage caused),” said Ed Szymanski, acting Eastpointe fire chief. “The bar was pretty crowded at the time, but fortunately (customers) were at the front end of the bar.”

While the exploding tank seemed an isolated incident, Szymanski said, he didn’t sleep well at the prospect of more tanks at more establishments throughout southeastern Michigan. The following day, he contacted the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. That agency oversees the transport of CO2 containers.

“I wanted to know why (the tank blew up),” Szymanski said.

A federal investigator was dispatched from Chicago to look into the incident. His investigation revealed the CO2 tank was delivered to Sullivan’s by North American Coil and Beverage Group Inc., also based in Eastpointe, Szymanski said.

The tank in question was manufactured in the 1970s and records indicated it had not been tested in many years. Regulations call for testing every five to seven years, Szymanski said.

Perhaps most disturbing to the chief: Federal officials estimated hundreds, and perhaps thousands of similar tanks delivered by North American Coil and Beverage are still in operation.

“They’re spread out from here to Toledo,” the chief said. “Probably none of these have been properly tested … I don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”

Officials from North American Coil and Beverage could not be reached for comment, but Szymanski said the company has cooperated with authorities to help track down the cylinders and get them out of circulation.

Szymanski sent out mass emails to every public safety agency he could think of to spread the word of the potential dangers.

Federal authorities have taken no action yet, but they hope to conclude their investigation and issue a report soon, possibly “by the end of the week,” said Jeannie Layson, spokeswoman for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Meanwhile, Sullivan’s remains open, but Sullivan acknowledged, “It’s been hard.”

But she also considers herself and her customers fortunate.

“We were lucky in this bar,” she said.

Source: Daily Tribune

Categories: CO2, Safety
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