Shin Shin Natural Gas Co (欣欣天然氣) president Lee Ching-kuo (李清國) yesterday apologized during a visit to the site of Friday’s gas explosion in New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店), pledging to shoulder the costs of any repairs the residents of the complex should require.
The explosion in a third-floor apartment claimed two lives and injured 13 people.
The chief executive of the apartment building’s management committee has accused Shin Shin of failing to properly handle a suspected natural gas leak on Thursday afternoon after residents complained of having smelled natural gas.
Lee yesterday acknowledged that if the company’s personnel had been more attuned to the seriousness of the situation and called for a thorough inspection when they received the calls, it might have been able to avert the disaster.
Lee said the firm would revise its procedure for handling reports of suspected gas leaks and would refit all pipes in the building within three days.
“We will also install microcomputers on the pipes to alert us to any leaks, so we will be able to remotely shut off the valves and stop the flow of gas,” Lee said.
However, Lee said that there were difficulties making thorough inspections in high-rise apartment buildings.
Usually, the buildings have security measures in place that ensure residents’ privacy, Lee said, adding that even during an inspection, the company’s technicians can only follow the executive director, instead of making a unit-by-unit inspection.
That said, Lee pledged that the company would in the future consider contacting the resident who made the first call for confirmation, and that it would also step up employees’ training for responding to such calls.
Separately, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office confiscated inspection kits, gas pipes and maintenance records used by workers on Thursday for further investigation.
It also requested that the residential complex provide a copy of the management committee’s logbook, as well as security footage.