Statement on the court proceedings concerning the incident at the Baumgarten gas station on 12 December 2017

The cause of the accident, the course of events and the responsibilities were subject of intensive investigations and enquiries by the Korneuburg public prosecutor's office. As Gas Connect Austria, we supported the authorities to the fullest extent and with all the means at our disposal. The comprehensive expert report on the cause of the accident commissioned by the responsible public prosecutor does not contain the slightest indication of culpable behaviour on the part of GCA.

Course of events described in expert reports

The exact course of events and the exact cause of the accident are the subject of expert reports by technical experts appointed by the public prosecutor and the competent judge. The cause of the accident is said to be the faulty assembly of a newly installed filter separator. Specifically, when closing the unit, the central screw was not screwed in and the safety central lever was also not mounted. The pressure warning nozzle was closed with a pressure cap, which also disabled this acoustic safety mechanism. During the testing procedure of the filter separator, at the construction site of the specialist company carrying out the work, the rising gas pressure caused the inadequately secured filter cover to be abruptly pushed open and hurled with great force against other equipment.

Customary in the industry and legally compliant responsibility

Gas Connect Austria is a plant operator and neither a plant designer nor a plant builder, nor an accredited inspection body. It is a real-life and customary procedure that external specialized companies are commissioned for the construction and installation of technical plants. This is also provided for in a corresponding guideline of the Austrian Association for Gas and Water (ÖVGW). Gas Connect Austria has followed all the rules and has contracted highly specialized and in their field leading companies, in order to ensure besides the law and contract compliant construction, the comprehensive construction supervision and expert inspection of the new equipment.

The responsibilities are clearly defined

Gas Connect Austria, as the network operator, commissioned a specialized company, in this case a pipe construction company, to erect and install the filter separator. In addition, an external engineering office was commissioned as project manager and construction supervisor to monitor whether the project was being handled in a professional manner. Prior to commissioning, a certified inspection and testing agency was also commissioned to test the filter separator. Such tests by an accredited certification body are mandatory by law during the installation phase. Only when all these steps have been completed the filter separator is handed over to Gas Connect Austria and subsequently put into operation. This handover never took place, as the accident occurred during the testing phase.

During the course of the project, GCA had no reason to doubt that the filter separator had been properly installed and tested, as evidenced by completion reports and preliminary certificates from the specialist companies, the accredited certification body and the engineering partner.