Car wash blast in Suwon kills 3 and injures 4

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Car wash blast in Suwon kills 3 and injures 4

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Police clean up after an explosion at a gas station car wash in Suwon, Gyeonggi, on Saturday, which killed three people and injured four others. [YONHAP]


A car wash at a gas station in Suwon, Gyeonggi, exploded Saturday morning, killing three people, injuring four others and destroying more than 10 vehicles and a dozen houses in the area, according to the police.

Police said yesterday that two unauthorized 50,000-liter oil tanks were in the basement of the car wash, one filled with cheaper fuels used to adulterate gasoline. Six more underground oil tanks were authorized and filled with regular gasoline. They all exploded.

Two employees of the gas station were killed: a Korean surnamed Kwon, 47, and a Chinese national, Liu Peng, 25. A customer surnamed Kim, 46, who was inside his car as it was being washed, was also killed.

“There’s a high possibility that steam penetrated the basement through a crack in an oil tank or a pipe, causing an explosion,” said an official at the Korea Institute of Petroleum Management. “Petroleum-like fuels have stronger explosive power than regular gasoline.”

The police said they are analyzing CCTV footage around the time of the explosion and prohibited the owner of the gas station, who is surnamed Kwon, 44, from leaving the country.

The gas station was caught in 2009 and in May for selling adulterated gasoline, which is illegal.

After the explosion, car owners around Seoul avoided car washes.

A car wash of a gas station had no customers all morning yesterday.

“I haven’t seen a single customer since Saturday afternoon,” said Yim, 58, who runs a car wash at a Hyundai Oil Bank gas station in Junggok-dong, eastern Seoul. “I think it is probably because of the explosion in Suwon.”

An S-Oil gas station in Dangsan-dong, western Seoul, which usually has lines of customers waiting to wash their cars on weekends, was deserted. “Usually, 50 to 80 vehicles use the car wash every day,” said its manager. “But ever since yesterday, there have been no customers, so we turned the power off.”

“I’m quite concerned that all automatic car wash machines will be seen as dangerous to the public even though the accident was caused by poor management of one gas station,” said Lee, 29, a manager of GS-Caltex in Myeongmok-dong, eastern Seoul.

Customers admitted to having the jitters. Kim Geun-hoe, 47, a customer of a GS-Caltex gas station, waved dismissively when offered a free car wash for buying 80,000 won ($69) worth of gas. “I am worried about using a car wash now that I know there are explosive substances underground,” Kim said. “I’m going to wash my car at home for a while.”

“I’ve seen many gas stations that pile up dangerous substances such as thinners around their car washes,” said Kim Seong-young, 59, a taxi driver. “I doubt the safety of gas stations, as most of them are poorly managed.”


By Yim Seung-hye, Jung Won-yeob [sharon@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

수원 주유소세차장 폭발, 유사석유 탓?

지하서 무허가 유류탱크 발견
작년 유사석유 판매 적발 전력
경찰, 주유소 대표 출국금지

지난 24일 7명의 사상자를 낸 경기도 수원의 주유소 세차장 폭발사고 현장 지하에서 유사석유가 들어 있는 무허가 유류탱크 2개가 발견됐다. 이날 오전 10시25분쯤 수원시 팔달구 인계동의 한 주유소 내 자동세차장 지하 기계실이 폭발해 주유소 직원 권운하(48)씨와 루펑(25·중국인), 세차 중이던 김용균(47)씨가 숨지고 허모(52·여)씨 등 4명이 다쳤다. 폭발 충격으로 세차장과 주유소 건물이 무너져 내렸고, 차량 10여 대가 부서졌다.

 경찰과 소방, 한국석유관리원 합동감식반은 25일 지하에서 허가받은 유류탱크 6개 외에 유증기 배출관이 없는 5만L짜리 탱크 2개를 더 발견했다. 탱크 중 한 곳에는 유사석유가 3분의 1가량 채워져 있었다. 또 유사석유 혼합용 센서로 보이는 잔해와 별도의 유류관도 발견됐다. 석유관리원 관계자는 “탱크나 유류관의 균열로 지하실로 스며든 유증기가 폭발했을 가능성이 크다”고 말했다. 유사석유는 정상 석유보다 폭발력이 강하고 유증기 발생량이 많지만 단속을 피하려고 배출관을 설치하지 않는 경우가 많다. 이 주유소는 2009년과 지난해 5월 유사석유를 판매하다 적발됐다. 경찰은 사고 당시 CCTV를 분석하는 한편 주유소 대표 권모(44)씨를 출국금지했다. 권씨는 사고 직후 잠적했다.

 사고 소식이 전해지자 다른 세차장에도 손님이 눈에 띄게 주는 등 시민들은 불안감을 나타냈다. 25일 오전 10시 서울 광진구 중곡동 현대 오일뱅크 주유소 내 자동 세차장은 한산했다. 직원 임모(59)씨는 “수원 세차장 사고 소식이 전해진 어제 오후부터 손님이 없다”고 말했다. 중랑구 면목동 GS칼텍스 직원 이모(30)씨는 “사고 주유소만의 문제인데 다른 주유소 세차장까지 부정적으로 보일까 봐 걱정”이라고 말하기도 했다. 택시기사 김성영(60)씨는 “세차장 주변에 시너 등 위험물질을 쌓아둔 곳도 봤다”며 “제대로 점검을 안 하니 시설이 안전한지 믿기 어렵다”고 말했다.

 
◆유사석유=정상 휘발유에 벤젠·톨루엔·솔벤트 등의 화학물질을 일정 비율로 혼합한 연료. 폭발력이 강해 엔진의 수명을 단축하고 연비와 출력을 감소시킨다. 정상 석유보다 가격이 싸다.

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