Mismanagement found in Goyang oil tank fire

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Mismanagement found in Goyang oil tank fire

The explosion and 17-hour blaze at an oil storage tank in Goyang, Gyeonggi, in October was caused by a runaway sky lantern, but also by poor management of the facilities, police concluded on Monday.

A 27-year-old Sri Lankan construction worker lit a sky lantern at a tunnel construction site where he worked in Goyang on Oct. 7, which flew toward a nearby gasoline storage facility owned by Daehan Oil Pipeline Corp. The resulting blaze lasted over 17 hours, burning through 2.82 million liters (17,737 barrels) of oil and causing over 11.7 billion won ($10.3 million) in damage.

There were no casualties.

The Gyeonggi Bukbu Provincial Police Agency said Monday that the Sri Lankan man will be booked without detention, and they will recommend to prosecutions his indictment for causing the fire by flying the sky lantern.

A 51-year-old branch manager of Daehan Oil Pipeline and two officials from the Ministry of the Interior and Safety were booked without detention for charges of violating the Oil Pipeline Safety Control Act. A 60-year-old former Ministry of Employment and Labor supervisor was also booked for abuse of power and the forging of documents, claiming that fire alarms were properly installed in 2014.

Police concluded that the sky lantern that landed on grass nearby the facility caused the explosion.

At around 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 7, the Sri Lankan worker lit the sky lantern from a tunnel construction site behind the Daehan storage tank.

Through a National Forensic Service analysis, opinions of experts in the field and a review of CCTV footage, police confirmed that the lantern landed in weeds and that fire spread, reaching the tank and causing the explosion

The Sri Lankan worker saw that the lantern was headed toward the tank and ran in that direction. The police concluded that the man committed gross negligence because he waited 18 minutes to report the fire.

He was initially arrested without a warrant and released. The public sympathized with the migrant worker and the panic he must have felt.

Police also found that the area was a fire hazard with haystacks located near the tank. Fire alarms were installed in only one out of 10 vents. There were also problems with the management of the Daehan branch office. As it was a Sunday, there were four people working and one person was supposed to be monitoring the CCTV station, but wasn’t.

BY JEON IK-JIN, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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