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November 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Stay Clear of Exploding Tanks

how to evaluate tank safety on dive trips overseas

from the November, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Around 2:30 p.m. on August 26, a loud explosion in Cozumel sent people running for cover. But it wasn't a bomb that went off, it was an exploding scuba tank. Juan Enrique Canch Ku was filling tanks in an outdoor area near Scuba-Cozumel, the on-site dive shop at the Scuba Club Cozumel resort, when one exploded. Dive shop manager Henry Ernesto Zapata Lpez told the local newspaper that when he ran toward the compressor, he found Canch Ku, 34, covered in blood with his right leg torn off. Two hours later, Canch Ku died; his doctor said death was due to shock, traumatic amputation and extensive lesions in the soft tissues. Tank splinters had pierced and ripped his body too drastically for him to recover.

Unfortunately, tank explosions are not an uncommon occurrence. We've written about several. For example, in our January 2013 issue, we wrote about a staffer at the Amigos Del Mar dive shop on Belize's Ambergris Caye who was fatally disemboweled by the shard of an exploding tank he was filling in the compressor area.

"Well over half of the air tanks we
used for shore diving with Scuba Club
Cozumel were leaking from the valve
stems and showed signs of corrosion."

Scuba Club Cozumel is a popular destination for hard-core divers, but the way they managed their air tanks had been questioned by one of our readers before the explosion. Seth Patterson (Brownsville, TX) stayed there for the first time in July and was concerned about how bad they looked. "We did 22 dives in six days between four of us, so we went through 88 tanks and fills. I would say well over half of the air tanks we used while shore diving were leaking from the valve stems and showed signs of corrosion. They were very poorly maintained."...

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