Propane Company Denies Negligence in Oklahoma Explosion

A McAlester, Okla., propane company has denied wrongdoing in civil lawsuits filed over an explosion at a Eufaula plant that killed one man and injured another.

Two lawsuits have been filed in McIntosh County District Court against RAM Inc./W.E. Allford Propane since the May 7 explosion at Ford Sand Blasting. Don Hamilton died from his injuries, while Michael Leslie Cox was severely burned.

“RAM, Inc. is extremely sympathetic towards the victims’ families and regrets that this tragic accident has occurred,” the company said in a statement. “However, RAM, Inc. categorically denies that it was negligent and that its actions had anything to do with causing the accident. In fact, after an investigation into the accident lasting nearly six months, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that no citations should be issued to RAM, Inc.”

Lawsuits filed by the families of Hamilton and Cox allege the explosion was caused by leaking propane from a tank owned and maintained by Allford Propane. The suits each seek more than $1 million in damages. The plant’s owner has said the blast was caused by a “flash explosion.”

An attorney representing the two families disputed RAM’s statement, saying the company escaped OSHA citations because the men were working for the plant, not the propane company.

“It’s very misleading for RAM to suggest that because OSHA didn’t write any citations that RAM wasn’t at fault,” attorney Jeremy Beaver said. “It’s my understanding from talking to OSHA that they only have jurisdiction to cite employers for injuries that happen to their employees. Neither of these gentlemen were working for RAM, Inc. when this disaster happened.

“This is the only reason that OSHA did not cite them. RAM should know this.”

OSHA is expected to issue a statement on the case early this week, the McAlester News-Capital reported.