St. Louis official defends Soulard tank inspection

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A St. Louis official is defending the city’s method of inspecting industrial-sized water tanks following a federal agency’s report on a tank explosion that killed four people.

The giant steam-filled tank exploded April 3 at Loy-Lange Box Co., flew into the air and smashed into a neighboring building. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said Thursday that the tank was restarted that morning even though it needed emergency repairs.

The agency also found no evidence of a city inspection. Unlike other places in Missouri, which are subject to annual state inspections, St. Louis requires on-site engineers to monitor tanks.

St. Louis Building Commissioner Frank Oswald says one of those engineers discovered the leak three days before the explosion, and the tank was shut down.

It isn’t clear why it was restarted before repairs could be made.