Gas released by around 120 spray cans at a real estate agency caused Sapporo to explode

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Taiki Sato, president of Apamanshop Leasing Hokkaido, bows during a press conference in the Kita district of Sapporo on December 18, 2018 (Mainichi / Taichi Kaizuka)

SAPPORO – Employees of a real estate company released antibacterial and odor-fighting gases from around 120 unused spray cans inside his office to dump them shortly before a powerful explosion occurred on December 16, the company chief said.



The site where an explosion occurred is seen in the Toyohira district of Sapporo on December 16, 2018 (Mainichi / Taichi Kaizuka)

In a press conference on December 18, Taiki Sato, president of Apamanshop Leasing Hokkaido, quoted the store manager, 33, as saying that the store had not carried out odor removal work in the store. several properties, even though he received fees from clients for the work.

The company is set to inspect all of its 13 outlets in the northernmost prefecture, suspecting that workers emptied the cans with the alleged aim of covering up their breach of contracts.

Investigators suspect that the explosion, which injured 42 people and severely damaged the building that houses the outlet, occurred at the Apamanshop outlet in Toyohira Ward, Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido.

According to Sato, the office near Hiragishi Station on the Nanboku Line of the Sapporo Municipal Metro said it had used some 190 cans of anti-bacterial and anti-odor gas since the start of the year. There were about 160 cans left at the exit when the explosion occurred.

Noting that the outlet typically uses 50 to 60 cans of this gas per year, those in the know pointed out that the outlet stores an unusually high number of cans.

The store had purchased about 30 spray cans of odor-eliminating gas per month. Sato stressed that “if the outlet received more contracts for odor removal work from customers, it would naturally increase its sales.”

When purchasing the spray cans for around 1,000 yen each, the agency charges the tenant at least 10,000 yen for spraying the gas inside their apartment.

During an internal interrogation, the director of the office reportedly said: “We have received too many contracts to do the work.”

Each aerosol can contains 200 milliliters of bacteria-killing and odor-eliminating gas which includes flammable dimethyl ether. It takes about four minutes to use its contents.

The official said during internal questioning that he and another worker put around 120 cans on his desk on the night of December 16 and emptied them one after the other.

After leaving the office, the workers returned inside, and one of them turned on a water heater to wash their hands when the explosion occurred. Cans carry warnings indicating that flammable gas is contained inside.

The two workers attempted to dispose of the cans in preparation for renovations to the store two days later, Sato said at the Dec. 18 press conference, adding that employees were unaware the gas was flammable.

Ahead of Sato’s press conference, Apaman Co., the parent company of Apamanshop Leasing Hokkaido, issued a statement admitting that the accident happened at the point of sale and apologized.

(Japanese original by Junichi Tsuchiya, Hokkaido News Department)

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