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April 23, 2015

Check safety of Pryce Gas terminal hit by quake, DOE urged

          A member of Congress has urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to check the stability and safety of Pryce Gases Inc.’s LPG terminal in San Fabian, Pangasinan that was partly damaged by an earthquake.
 
          “We’re surprised that the DOE, up to now, has not bothered to independently verify the installation’s soundness, despite the crash of a protective structure,” said House Deputy Minority Leader Arnel Ty, the representative of the sectoral party LPG Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA).
 
          During a recent tremor, the 90-meter retaining wall of a sand-mounded LPG storage tank collapsed at Pryce Gases’ 6,300-metric ton, marine-fed terminal in San Fabian, according to a Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) report.
 
A two-inch thick concrete slab casing the sand mound also slipped, the report said.
 
          Residents of the coastal town have expressed safety concerns following the incident.
 
          “In the interest of public safety, the DOE should now mobilize its own experts to inspect the damage and certify the facility’s integrity. The department should not wait for a bigger accident to happen,” Ty said.
 
The BFP lacks the competence to ascertain the extent of the hazards associated with any potential damage to an LPG installation, the lawmaker pointed out.
 
          “Offhand, earthquakes pose the biggest threat to the safety of LPG installations countrywide, considering that the country lies along the Ring of Fire,” Ty said.
 
          The Ring of Fire is an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean.
 
According to Earthquaketrack.com, the Philippines had one tremor in the past seven days, 12 tremors in the past month, and 190 tremors in the past year, all measuring magnitude 1.5 or greater.
 
          Pryce Gases’ San Fabian terminal employs the mounded storage system, wherein large LPG vessels are covered by layers of compacted sand to cushion the containers from shock and reduce the danger of fire engulfment.
 
          Retaining walls are then built around the tanks to stabilize the sand mound and prevent the pressurized cylinders from tilting that may cause leakage, explosion and uncontrollable fire.
 
          It was the retaining wall, at Tank No. 3, which collapsed, the BFP said.
 
          Ty is one of the lead sponsors of the proposed LPG Industry Regulation and Safety Act, which has already been approved by the House committees on appropriation, on energy, and on trade and industry.
 
The bill mandates rigorous standards meant to ensure the safe importation, refining, storage, refilling, distribution, transportation, and consumption of the cooking and auto fuel.
 
         Among other safety provisions, the bill requires every LPG installation, including terminals, to obtain and renew annually, a highly improved standard compliance certificate to be issued by the DOE.
 
The certificate will attest that the installation has fully complied with the prescribed safety rules and regulations.
 
          Pryce Gases is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pryce Corp., a Philippine Stock Exchange-listed entity that recently emerged from a court-supervised rehabilitation plan.
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