For Immediate Release - September 02, 2010

Attorney General, State Fire Marshal, and Massachusetts State Police Announce Actions Taken Regarding Lack of Odorant Found in Propane Distributions in Massachusetts

BOSTON - Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley, State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, and Massachusetts State Police announced that they have taken steps to address risks associated with a lack of odorant in propane gas that was sold and distributed throughout Massachusetts since May 1.

Through an investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office, it was determined that the proper levels of odorant, used to warn people of possible gas leaks, was not found in propane gas distributed from DCP Midstream's propane facility in Westfield, Massachusetts.

Listen to press conference audio and view transcript:

Upon discovery of the issue regarding the propane, the Attorney General's Office and the Fire Marshal's Office have taken the following actions to address the problem, including:

  • Taking immediate steps to prevent the further distribution of non-odorized propane by contacting the approximately 56 distributors in Massachusetts to test their product. Those tests were witnessed by State Police investigators today. Of those 56 distribution centers, six were found to have insufficient levels of odorant. Those six facilities have been shut down until the matter is corrected.
  • Communicating with DCP Midstream alleging that it may have violated the law by failing to properly odorize propane sold throughout the Commonwealth. It requests that DCP take the following actions and, if they do not voluntarily do so, the AG will seek a court order requiring them to take these actions:

  • Retain a third-party monitor to test and certify all propane distributed to Massachusetts complies with Massachusetts law.
  • Provide its customer base with a risk notice that will provide them with information about the hazards of non-odorized LPG and the steps they need to take to rectify non-odorized LPG they may have purchased.

  • There has been evidence that the faulty shipments may have been sent to other states for distribution. The Massachusetts Fire Marshal has contacted all effected states so that they can take the necessary steps in order to protect public safety.

The Attorney General's Office and Fire Marshal's Office are continuing to investigate the scope of the problem and the number of consumers who may have been impacted. The offices will continue to provide updates as further information becomes available.

In the meantime, the Fire Marshal's Office recommends that consumers of propane gas take the following steps to minimize risks and better protect themselves:

If you use piped propane inside your home, you are advised to take extra precautions:

  • Contact your distributor to see if your delivery is part of the affected propane. Remember that not all propane in Massachusetts is affected, only some.
  • Do not smoke indoors or near propane tanks.
  • If you have a power outage, use flashlights and battery-operated candles instead of traditional flame candles.
  • Consider purchasing a gas detector (it could cost approximately $60).
  • Do NOT attempt to inspect your system yourself. That could create a leak that did not previously exist. Work with your local delivery company.

If you are cooking with an LP-Gas grill tank that was filled since May 1, take extra precautions:

  • Make sure connections are tight
  • Use outdoors only
  • Use ten feet away from building
  • Do not use on balconies above the first floor
  • Perform a leak test by spraying the hose and connections with a soapy liquid solution. Bubbles indicate a possible leak. (Again, only perform a leak test on the gas grill tanks, not on a piped propane system inside your home.)

Individuals that have questions and concerns are encouraged to contact the AG's dedicated phone line at (617) 963-2400 or by email at ago@state.ma.us.

The New England Propane Gas association has provided a contact number for customers of propane gas who have questions about their service or for testing of tanks. Customers can call 888-445-1075 or visit online at www.pgane.org.

For additional information please visit the Attorney General's website at www.mass.gov/ago/propane.

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