Firm sorry for New Taipei City gas blast

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Lee Ching-guo (李清國), general manager of Shin Shin Natural Gas Co. Ltd (欣欣天然氣公司), yesterday issued an apology regarding the gas explosion that killed two in Xindian, New Taipei.

The apology came two days after the gas explosion that occurred in a residential complex in Xindian, causing the almost immediate death of a young boy and hospitalizing 10 others.

"(We) are extremely sorry for the incident," said Lee with a bow, stressing that his company would be taking responsibility to check for potential gas leaks.

Shin Shin dispatched technicians to replace the gas pipelines of the building in which the explosion occurred, saying that it hoped the provision of gas would resume within three days.

The explosion took place on Lane 159 of Ankang Road Section 2 and resulted in 10 injuries severe enough to require treatment at Cardinal Tien Hospital, Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital, Shuang Ho Hospital and Wan Fang Hospital. The explosion happened in a high-rise residential building with nearly 90 households after complaints of smelling natural gas from the residents went ignored by the gas company, local media reported.

"The company will be reflecting on its standard operating procedures concerning the detecting of gas leakages ... the prosecution is currently investigating who should take responsibility for the explosion. (If the results call for it,) Shin Shin will take responsibility," said Lee.

According to the New Taipei City Government, it has been supplying the residential buildings affected by the explosion with power, water and gas; after the gas company cut off the gas supply to check on the pipelines, 135 households in the community resumed using natural gas yesterday.

The residents of Building A, where the explosion occurred, agreed after a detailed inspection by the Shin Shin technicians for the power provision to be continued, on the condition that all pipelines are shown to function perfectly.

Despite the agreement, many residents still expressed anxiety over possible explosions in the future and stated that they were unwilling to turn on the power and gas switches at home.

On the day of the explosion, the gas company arrived at the community upon receiving complaints of gas leakages, but their equipment detected no traces of a leak and even after the explosion occurred, the pipelines remained intact, said Lee. "The technicians were only led to the basement and stairwells, we were not informed of any other unusual signs," Lee added.

"In the future, we will be expanding the investigation for potential leakage actively, instead of only inspecting the areas we are informed of ... our staff will be re-educated on this as well."