Nearby business owners not happy with Blue Rhino plant fines

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TAVARES, Fla. —

Nearby business owners said they're not impressed by the $73,000 in federal fines after an explosion rocked the Blue Rhino propane plant in Tavares last year.

Just recently, it was ruled that the blast that almost killed several workers was accidental.

The explosion happened July 29 and sent propane canisters flying through the air and heavily damaged the plant.

Duane Siebert owns a business next door to the plant but said the fines weren’t enough.

"I think the penalties should have been in addition to that, make them move," said Siebert.

The facility has since resumed full production after passing a string of inspections and putting new safety procedures in place.

Channel 9 learned that 10 days before the blast, a state Department of Agriculture inspection found no violations.  But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for 26 of them.   

"That is very concerning to me, personally, and the city as well," said City Administrator John Drury.

Drury said with OSHA, the state and the city keeping watch, along with extra precautions taken by Blue Rhino, the plant should be much safer.

"If any facility is being looked at very closely in this country, it's this one," he said. "And it needs to be this one."

A company statement outlined four major improvements: an automated water cannon system that will be online next month to flood any fire, a 30 percent cut in the number of propane tanks on the property, more space between the rows of tanks, and more ways in and out of the facility.