Tank blast site subject to abatement notice

6:47 pm on 16 September 2015

The company where a man was killed in a tank explosion yesterday had been issued with an abatement notice last month, Auckland Council says.

Police stationed outside Salter Cartage factory.

Police stationed outside Salters Cartage in Wiri, South Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

Huntly man Jamey Lee Bowring died in yesterday's massive explosion at Salters Cartage in Wiri in South Auckland, and another man was injured.

Jamey Bowring

Jamey Lee Bowring Photo: Facebook

Witnesses say the 24-year-old, who was working as a contractor for Huntly-based Race Works Ltd, had been welding on top of a tank at Salters Cartage in Wiri, South Auckland, when it exploded.

They say he was flung from the top of the tank, across the road and into a car park.

Auckland Council today revealed it issued an abatement notice to Salters Cartage after a compliance visit on 6 August.

Council general manager of resource consents Ian Smallburn told Checkpoint it was because of concerns about the gas ventilation system at the site, and the company was given until the end of this month to provide a plan to remedy the problems.

"With some of the ducting, we found that there was pinholes in the ducting which was letting off odour and steam," he said.

"The other issue that we found when on site was that the record-keeping of the waste oil processes weren't up to scratch."

However, there was nothing to suggest the concerns were associated with yesterday's explosion, he said.

Salters Cartage had not come to the council's attention before the abatement notice was issued, and its August site visit was a regular and standard compliance check.

Council staff had been at the scene today to see if contaminants from the blast had gone into an estuary, and it was also working with WorkSafe New Zealand to try to find out what caused the explosion.

Tributes paid to 'amazing man'

Jayme Bowring's father, Tony Bowring, said his son would not have been stupid enough to carry out welding on top of a fuel tank unless he was told to.

"Somebody has made a huge mistake sending my son up there with a gas torch," he said.

"Why would he do it? He was only measuring walkways so there was no need for him to be welding.

"It should have been safety cleared before he used any welding equipment."

He said someone needed to be held to account for his son's death, and he would be pursuing answers from authorities.

Tony Bowring told Radio New Zealand his son was an "amazing man", who had been taken from his family and friends far too soon.

"I loved him. I was so proud of him. He had so much going for him and was taken far too soon."

He said his feelings "were all over the place today".

"He was my son, he was one of the good guys... he would give you the shirt off his back."

He said his heart was with Jamey's mother and his two brothers.

"We all have you in our hearts and always will," he said.

Jamey Bowring's friends have been paying tribute to him on social media websites.

"Words can't explain feelings right now but feel robbed and hurt, feel like a plastic bag is wrapped around my heart and it's suffocating, I miss you so much my brother and were taken from us way too early. I will never forget the good and bad times we had together, mainly drifting and welding, love you and will miss you always," one friend posted.

Another wrote that his love went out to the family. He said Jamey was like to a brother to him and he would never forget him.

Welding not needed

Salters Cartage managing director Ron Salter said clean-up efforts would not begin until investigations by the police and WorkSafe New Zealand were complete.

Mr Salter said Race Works Ltd had been contracted to measure walkways for new oil tanks that had just been installed.

Welding was not needed for that job, and Mr Salter could not understand why welding had been done.

Salter's Cartage had strict welding policies and used gas-free meters to ensure accidents did not happen, he said.

A representative from Race Works Ltd said last night it would not be able to comment until today.