LPG blasts stoppable, says solon

THE fresh wave of accidental liquefied petroleum gas tank explosions could have been prevented had Congress passed a long-pending bill seeking to forcefully promote the safe consumption of the cooking fuel, the LPG Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA) sectoral party said Friday.

LPG-MA made the statement after another potentially defective cooking fuel tank blew up Wednesday in a three-storey residential building in Sta. Mesa, Manila, seriously injuring at least 12 people, including three children aged one to nine years, with first- to second-degree burns.

The disaster could have been avoided had the proposed LPG Regulation and Safety Act, or House Bill (HB) 5052, been promptly enacted by Congress, according to LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty.

The 55-member House trade and industry committee approved the bill in August 2011. It has since been pending floor consideration.

The bill sets adequate strategies to ensure that every LPG tank coming out of a refilling plant has gone through painstaking safety or re-qualifying tests.

Tanks damaged from normal wear and tear would be promptly detected, repaired and re-qualified, or scrapped, as the case may be.

The measure also enables the orderly replacement of all substandard tanks in the open market. It includes a one-time cylinder exchange program for the benefit of consumers owning rundown tanks.

“The unchecked proliferation of unsafe tanks has contributed in a big way to the rise in highly destructive accidental fires in homes as well as commercial settings,” said Ty, a member of the House public order and safety committee.

“The needless delay in the bill’s passage puts at severe risk the safety of consumers, including whole neighborhoods where illegal LPG refillers have sprouted,” he warned.

He added: “Congress should act posthaste, and not wait for far more deadly tragedies involving LPG blasts.”

LPG tank explosions have emerged as a leading cause of deadly blazes averaging around 10 incidents every month, according to the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Last year, an LPG tank explosion caused a kitchen fire that killed four people, including two children, in Taguig City.

At least 10 people, including four children, were also injured when an LPG tank blew up in a Cebu City junkshop.

In one of the worst LPG disasters in recent years, a truck packed with tanks crashed into a roadside eatery in Carmona, Cavite, setting off blasts that killed nine people, including two children.

A similar accident recurred last year, when another truck overloaded with LPG tanks flipped on the South Luzon Expressway in Parañaque City, causing multiple explosions.

HB 5052 sets complete and rigorous standards meant to ensure the safe storage, refilling, distribution, transport and use of LPG.

It also protects consumers from abusive refillers and traders as well as illicit importers of second-hand and possibly dilapidated tanks.

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