Safety rules-flouting LPG bottlers to face stern action

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 5, 2018-

The Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology has been preparing to move against liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottling plants flouting government safety regulations as they pose a risk of harm to the public.

Following calls for stricter supervision of gas plants after a fire at Super Gas Factory in Sukhasaina, Parsa two weeks ago claimed three lives, the bureau asked Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) to take action against LPG bottlers not maintaining safety standards.

The state-owned oil monopoly issues operating licences and purchase delivery orders to bottling plants to import LPG from India. 

The bureau’s Director General Bishwo Babu Pudasaini said they urged NOC to deal with the errant gas bottling plants as they had shown no interest in complying with its instructions issued to them last year. 

In November 2016, the bureau enforced the LPG Bottling Plant Operation Standards and directed gas plants to obtain Nepal Standard (NS) certification within three months. “However, only four of the bottlers have received NS mark so far,” Pudasaini said. 

There are 55 LPG bottling plants operating in the country. The four who have obtained NS certification are Manoj Gas, Shreekrishna Gas, Nepal Gas and Saibaba Gas, according to the bureau. 

As per the new regulation, bottling plants need to hire the necessary technical manpower and observe safety measures besides being prepared for any kind of emergency on their premises. 

The bottling plants are also required to maintain a balance between their production and factory area. 

Likewise, they have been told to examine their LPG cylinders on a regular basis and check the thickness of the cylinder wall, sludge deposit, valve safety and safety caps. “Based on an assessment of these risk factors, the bureau provides NS marks to the bottling plants,” Pudasaini said. They are also required to conduct hydraulic and leakage tests of the cylinders.

Owners of LPG plants violating the safety standards face a fine of Rs3,000 or a jail term of six months or both. Moreover, the bottlers may not have their licences renewed or be denied purchase delivery orders by NOC. The government can also close the bottling plants at any moment, according to the bureau. 

Meanwhile, LPG bottlers have said that they were reluctant to obtain NS certification as it would push up their operating costs. 

Shiva Ghimire, former president of the Nepal LP Gas Industry Association, said they were ready to fulfil the safety requirements related to gas cylinders. 

“However, rules saying that an adequate distance should be maintained between different operation units and that gas cylinders cannot be stacked more than two high are not practical. These provisions could increase our operating costs severalfold,” Ghimire said. “We will reach a conclusion on what to do next only after holding talks with the authorities.”

Deepak Baral, director of NOC’s LPG section, said they were yet to receive the bureau’s letter. “NOC will take the necessary steps as per government laws if gas bottlers continue to defy safety regulations,” he said. 

Published: 05-01-2018 08:23

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