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Two pig farm workers die of methane gas poisoning


Police said Sunday that two workers at a pig farm in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, were found dead on Saturday night. The results of an autopsy showed the two men died of methane gas inhalation, according to police.

The bodies of the two workers, aged 36 and 63, were found in a sludge storage tank at about 8 p.m. Saturday night, Fuji TV reported. Police believe they died from inhaling methane gas from the excrement of the pigs.

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Victims in manure storages hardly ever die of methane! Methane is an odorless flammable gas, produced in large quantities in rotting organic matter. Theoretically it might kill by displacing oxygen, but as it is lighter than air, it quickly escapes from open storages. What remains behind in storage pits are huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), a pure asphyxiant that is 1,5 times heavier than air - and most often also many ppm's of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a toxic, corrosive and flammable gas, 1.2 times heavier than air. In nearly all deadly manure gas incidents, people die of H2S poisoning, often combined with CO2 suffocation or drowning. With H2S: one breath can kill ! As H2S suicides are well known in Japan, this knowledge should at least be present with police and emergency workers !!!

Jetty Middelkoop, MPS Dangerous Goods Officer Fire Dept. Amsterdam Amstelland The Netherlands (Specialized in manure gas incidents)

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What a horrible way to die! Poor guys! RIP

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Many farms use methane to run generators for electricity in China and some in America. In some Scandinavian countries they use methane to run vehicles. People and animals would supply enough methane to run cars and trucks. There is speculation that some ships have been sunk by being directly over an exploding methane bubble from the sea floor.

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Is methane gas from pigs++t really odorless? sounds strange.

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RIP guys.

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Sadly, this kind of accident happens occasionally in farms. Most often when people are 'agitating' the slurry, to prepare it for use as fertiliser. The sudden stirring of the slurry, and breaking the layer of hardened crap (literally) on top means that a serious amount of methane can be released all at once.

As mentioned earlier in the thread, often one gets faint and falls in, another tries to rescue and suffers the same fate.

It happened to an upcoming Irish rugby star and his brother and father last year. 3 members of the same family died,and their sister barely survived.

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One would think people would refuse to work in such a place without methane detection equipment right on their person plus a small oxygen tank. This story is like a broken record.

But I bet the pigs are not sorry.

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smithinjapanJul. 15, 2013 - 01:53PM JST Sounds to me like safety precautions were lacking. You don't have to work with pigs or on farms to know of dangers like this, so where were the gas masks that should be mandatory?

This was my first thought too. The farm next to my grandfather's had pigs and they were always super-careful to maintain the ventilation fans and had a monitor that sounded an alarm when the air became even marginal.

I remember the alarm going off a few times and it automatically opened special hatches in the ceiling to let off excess methane (methane is lighter than air). The farmer explained that the alarm was so sensitive because it is easy to pass out with even relatively small amounts, and in the past there had been fatalities when people passed out at low concentrations and were unable to take action as the levels built to lethal levels.

That's probably what happened here. They passed out and fell in.

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Sounds to me like safety precautions were lacking. You don't have to work with pigs or on farms to know of dangers like this, so where were the gas masks that should be mandatory?

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My guess is that they most likely were cleaning the tank but there was still enough methane gas residue left in the tank. Since it is odour-less, etc .......

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These accidents are quite common on farms, usually with multiple deaths. What usually happens in that one person gets overcome with fumes, then someone tries to rescue the first person and suffers the same fate.


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How did exactly did they get in the tank? Did they fall in, and then die? That would be absolutely horrible. Or were they working in and around the tank and just of kind passed out and fell in?

How in the world did this happen to two guys at the same time?

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