State probing Manchester propane leak


MANCHESTER >> Two state agencies are probing the Nov. 12 propane leak that led to one man suffering severe burns.

The state's Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and the Division of Fire Safety (DFS) are jointly investigating the incident, according to Bruce Martin, regional director of the DFS's Springfield office and deputy chief of the Vermont HAZMAT Response Team (VHMRT).

"We are investigating the incident jointly to determine what happened and how a similar situation may be prevented in the future," Martin wrote in an email Monday afternoon.

Initial reports by at least one Burlington-based media outlet stated that HAZMAT crews were at the scene the day after the incident.

Martin clarified that there was no HAZMAT response, per se. He wrote that he was at the depot on Nov. 18 to visit with Suburban Propane officials, and his vehicle is identified with VHMRT markings.

The DFS and VHMRT are two state agencies which oversee above-ground storage tanks, such as those that hold propane, heating oil or used oil.

Just after 8 a.m. on Nov. 12, emergency personnel responded to the large cloud of propane from an above-ground storage tank at a propane bulk storage tank facility, which is located off of Depot Street (Route 30) on Taconic Business Park Road.

According to the Manchester Fire Department, a truck driver, reportedly with Suburban Propane, may have left a valve open during a propane transfer at the depot. An estimated 200 gallons of propane leaked out into the air.

A second truck driver, John Matala, 42, of Cambridge, N.Y. suffered bad "cold burns" when he turned off a valve at the depot. He was taken to a Burlington hospital with burns on nearly 30 percent of his body.

Initial reports identified Matala as a Suburban Propane employee, but the family stated he was an independent owner/operator and was not employed by Suburban.

A representative for Suburban Propane could not be reached by press time.


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