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March 18, 2015

Nearly 2 years after Serendra blast, 2 House panels okay LPG safety bill

The House committees on energy and on trade and industry have jointly recommended the immediate passage of new legislation that protects the interests, welfare and safety of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumers.
 
The two panels have endorsed for plenary approval the proposed LPG Industry Regulation and Safety Act, which mandates rigorous standards meant to ensure the safe importation, refining, storage, refilling, distribution, transportation, and consumption of the cooking and auto fuel.
 
          “We have very high hopes that the measure will go a long way in promoting the safe operations of the industry and the harmless utilization of the fuel,” said House Deputy Minority Leader and LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty, a leading sponsor of the bill.
 
          The Bureau of Fire Protection has ranked accidental LPG discharges as a leading cause of fire disasters.
 
          “We want to prevent the loss of lives and properties as a result of accidental LPG blasts in industrial, commercial and household settings,” Ty said.
 
          Last year, three workers were killed and two others were maimed when an LPG storage tank exploded at an unlicensed refilling station in Bantay, Ilocos Sur.
 
It was the deadliest LPG-related tragedy since the May 31, 2013 explosion at Two Serendra in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), which killed three people and seriously injured a tenant.
 
          “We expect the measure to help lessen the public safety hazards associated with the growing use of piped-in LPG by new mixed-use property development projects such as BGC,” Ty said.
 
         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.
 
Ty said the certificate will attest that the installation has fully complied with the prescribed safety rules and regulations.
 
The bill also sets the best conduct and practices for all LPG industry players; addresses product quality and safety concerns; and upholds the right of consumers to freely choose the LPG brand they want to purchase.
 
 “We are also counting on the measure to discourage in a big way the activities of abusive, fraudulent and unsafe LPG refillers and traders that continue to proliferate in many communities,” Ty said.
 
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.
 
“Dilapidated cylinders are a menace to public safety, and they will be properly scrapped if they can no longer be restored and requalified,” Ty said.
 
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