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Roxas pushes for safety regulations on use of vaporized LPG.

Byline: Marlon Ramos

MANILA -- The government must learn its lesson from the gas explosion that ripped through a ritzy condominium in Taguig City on May 31 and left four people dead, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said.

Roxas said the blast at Two Serendra was a "tragedy" that should prompt concerned government agencies to implement stricter safety regulations on the use of vaporized liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) distribution system, conforming to international standards.

"Overall, we seek to develop a national regulatory framework for the design installation and use of pipe-in LPG and other fuel gas system based on international standards and based on best practices," he said after presenting to the media the final report of the inter-agency task force which investigated the explosion.

"We want to enforce international standards and best practices using the safety measures that we have yet to use in the (residential) buildings like Two Serendra," Roxas said.

He said the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Department of Trade and Industry would be furnished with copies of the report, which they could use in crafting appropriate safety policies in piped-in LPG system.

"What happened in Two Serendra on May 31 was a tragedy and we condole with the families of those who died as we hope for them to get justice. The sacrifices (of those who died) should not be in vain. We should learn from this tragedy," Roxas said.

Citing the results of the investigation, the interior secretary said the Ayala-owned Bonifacio Gas Corp. (BGC), the supplier of the cooking gas to the building, lacked "technical competence" in handling vaporized LPG distribution system.

Roxas said Angelito San Juan, the renter of the ill-fated Unit 501-B of Two Serendra, did not smell the accumulated LPG fumes inside the room as ethyl mercaptan - the chemical used as odorant of LPG - had vaporized beyond its recognizable level.

"They did not know that the odorant would vaporize and lessen its effectivity in detecting leaking LPG. And if they knew it, they probably failed to immediately act (to plug the leak). That's why they could be held liable for possible negligence," he said.

In summing up the results of the investigation, Roxas said the "bahala na, OK lang" (it's up to God, that's OK) attitude of the developer and owner of Two Serendra and BGC was to blame for the May 31 blast that also wounded five people, including an American national.

"Negligence has no place in our society. We will not let the 'bahala na, OK lang' (attitude) to continue especially in this kind of sensitive matter like the vaporized distribution system of gas," he said.

He noted that the previous finding of the task force that the blast, which destroyed Unit 501-B of Two Serendra was not caused by a bomb, but by the LPG fumes which leaked from the main gas supply line of the building.

The blast was so powerful it tore off a concrete slab of the condominium unit, which flew on the street below and crushed to death the driver and two helpers of a passing delivery van of a prominent chain of appliance stores.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Oct 7, 2013
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