U-Haul and Employee Charged With Hazardous Materials Violations Related to a Fatal Food Truck Explosion in Philadelphia
On June 12, 2018, U-Haul Company of Pennsylvania and Miguel Rivera, former general manager at U-Haul’s Hunting Park location, were indicted by a Federal grand jury in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They were charged with criminal violations of DOT’s hazardous materials regulations, which in one case led to the death of two individuals.
This investigation was initiated in response to the explosion of a propane cylinder on a food truck parked at 3rd Street and Wyoming Avenue in Philadelphia on July 1, 2014. A propane cylinder ruptured and the escaping propane ignited, briefly enveloping the food truck in a fireball and exploding the propane cylinder. The event seriously injured several individuals and caused significant property damage. Two people later died from injuries sustained in the explosion.
According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly filled propane cylinders improperly on several occasions. At the time, regulations required cylinders that might be filled with a hazardous material, such as propane, to be retested at least every 12 years. The propane cylinders on this food truck were significantly beyond the retest date. One cylinder was manufactured in 1948 and had never been retested, and the other was last retested in 1995.
The indictment also alleges that U-Haul failed to properly train and test an employee who filled cylinders with propane, as required by Federal regulations. At various times in June 2014, the untrained employee, as instructed by Rivera, filled propane cylinders on behalf of U-Haul.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, with substantial assistance from the Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia Fire Department, and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.