Deadly Lemoore water tank explosion was preventable, officials say

Local News

Water tank rupture in Lemoore. (Photo: VisaliaStringer)

LEMOORE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — The City of Lemoore released a statement Wednesday saying that the deadly water tank explosion last month that killed one person was preventable.

According to the press release, the 1.5 million gallon tank had been in service for many years without incident.

A contractor’s employee failed to perform an essential, required safety check before performing welding on this tank, according to the release. Officials say this check would have alerted the contractor to the issue that caused the explosion.

Additionally, the City of Lemoore issued these warnings:

“First, people doing plumbing work on water systems or in confined spaces containing municipal
water must test the area for the presence of gas before performing work. This must be done as a
matter of standard practice when cutting pipe, working in confined spaces with head spaces, or
exposing any unknown atmosphere to an ignition source, such as “hot work” (anything that creates
a spark or significant heat-producing activity.)

Second, industrial facilities with water-holding tanks must check the head space for the presence
of gas and ensure that active-monitoring electronic probes are de-energized, or monitored in
relationship to the gas levels in the head space; and, before performing any “hot work” associated
with this type of equipment and environment.

Third, the water is safe to drink as the EPA and California Department of Drinking Water does not
require testing for methane, the gas identified to have been involved. After all a bit of methane
comes from us after consuming gaseous foods. The guidance with this advisory is to ensure
residents the water is safe to drink but requires additional steps for the maintenance of water
systems. People must test the work environment atmosphere before performing “hot work.”

Lastly, the city will resume shortly on getting the new water systems tested and approved for use
by the state. The water is safe to drink and requires no additional treatment.”

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