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April 23, 2015

LPG safety bill: It’s about time

     They are an integral part of the everyday lives of Filipinos—from the richest to the poorest households. And every one of us has looked at one of these liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks thinking what would happen if something went wrong.
 
 
 
It seems like every few months there is another incident where, through misuse or mishandling, there is a major fire with headlines like “LPG tanks explode, cause fire in Parañaque.”
 
 
 
However, in 2011, the Bureau of Fire Protection and the LPG Industry Association reported that five out of 10 tanks of LPG in the market were defective and substandard.
 
 
 
Fire Chief Supt. Santiago Laguna said the most common causes of LPG-induced fires in homes and establishments are defective hoses, incorrect installation of the pressure regulators and cylinder valves that were left open. There is misuse and mishandling.
 
 
 
Nonetheless, if 50 percent of all tanks are bombs just waiting to go off, it is a crime and something has not been done to correct this problem. There are about 12 million LPG tanks in use at any given time, with about 3 million needing repairs and another 3 million that are so worn-out that they should be discarded.
 
 
 
All this information was available at least four years ago, but it is only now that the House of Representatives is getting nearer to passing a law to regulate and help control this situation through the LPG Industry Regulation and Safety Act, which is long overdue.
 
 
 
From a news release by House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Arnel Ty: “The bill requires every LPG installation, including centralized underground pipelines, to obtain and renew annually a highly improved standard compliance certificate to be issued by the Department of Energy.” Further, “the measure, likewise, regulates the manufacture, requalification, exchange, swapping or improvement of LPG cylinders, and provides adequate strategies to guarantee that every tank coming out of a refilling plant has gone through painstaking security checks.”
 
 
 
Of course, there are going to be those unscrupulous companies and individuals that will do everything they can to skirt the law to increase their profits. But, at least, the government is taking proactive steps to stop this potential life-threatening practice of selling bad products to the public.
 
 
 
Do we dare ask which vested interests have spent time and money delaying this legislation?
 
 
 
This is a no-brainer and what the legislature is supposed to be doing. Identify and substantiate that a genuine problem exists. Bring in the technical experts to offer solutions and the “legal eagles” to draft penalties for violation. Then pass the law.
 
 
 
But the LPG Industry Regulation and Safety Act is not a law yet, and it should be enacted as quickly as possible.
 

Image Credits: Jimbo Albano

 

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