Propane explosion prompts call for Philly inspection of tanks

Listen
 Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke discusses his plan for better regulation of propane tanks in the city. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke discusses his plan for better regulation of propane tanks in the city. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

After the propane tank on a Philadelphia food truck exploded, killing two this summer, it came to light that no one in the city inspects those tanks regularly.

City Council is moving to change that.

A bill proposed by Council President Darrell Clarke was inspired by the Feltonville food truck explosion that killed a mother and her teenage daughter in July.

While food trucks have to be inspected to ensure they’re clean, regulations concerning the tanks that heat  up the grill are much fuzzier.

“There is some language in the state that indicates that the state has levels of jurisdiction when it comes to propane tanks, but nowhere in there is there an established process to mandate inspections to insure that these things aren’t dangerous to the general public,” Clarke said Thursday. .

“So what we are trying to do is enact legislation that would require the fire department to inspect on a systematic business propane tanks in the city of Philadelphia,” he said.

Council members have been contacted by people worried about the risks associated with the tanks that are usually mounted outside the food trucks, Clarke said.

“This is a significant concern to a lot of people,” he said. “We’ve gotten calls from universities, in particular, where there are significant numbers of food trucks with a lot of propane tanks, and they are extremely concerned because of the proximity to a whole lot of people.”

The explosion and fire occurred July 1 at Third Street and Wyoming Avenue in Feltonville. In addition to the fatal injuries of the woman and her daughter, 11 others were hurt in the blast.

A hearing on the propane tank bill has not been set.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.