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Minister orders probe into explosion

Published: 
Saturday, February 6, 2016

Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre says she is “very concerned” about a second explosion involving North Plant LPG and has mandated almost immediately that an investigation be conducted into the incident which left four people injured.

Olivierre told the GML Enterprise Desk that “it is the second incident within a year almost to the date” and she finds it a “very strange coincidence.”

On Thursday, during a refuelling of propane gas near Kleen Rite Dry Cleaners, at Mucurapo Road, St James, an explosion destroyed the building and also damaged another paint business.

She said the investigation would determine “whether the LPG storage tank on the site had the necessary approvals, talk to the operator about the equipment which was used, look at the health and safety practices of the company, interview the driver and determine whether standard guidelines and procedures were followed.”

She said, “We have already identified the inspector to conduct the investigation and part of the investigation would include the report from the fire services.” 

Olivierre said her mandate was to improve and strengthen the regulations of the sector.

“I have two inspectors from my Petroleum Asset Monitoring Unit who are on site and they would be working with the fire services to really ascertain what caused the fire and how we can put better procedures in place in the future, to prevent something like this from reoccurring,” she told reporters during a site visit to an exploratory rig at the Petrotrin oil fields, Fyzabad, yesterday.

Olivierre said she was troubled that the driver of the gas truck involved in Thursday’s incident was identified as the driver of the truck involved in a similar fire at El Pecos, Royal Palm Plaza, Maraval, one year to the date. In the El Pecos fire, 11 people were injured and one man, John Knolly Soo Ping Chow, died four months later from the injuries he sustained. 

The energy minister has oversight of the operations of LPG companies under the Petroleum Act and she said one of the “obvious things which relate to refilling LPG storage tanks is the time it is done and this must be looked at, because there are inherent risks involved. One may want to look at refilling when there are less persons around the facilities.” She added, “Some of these tanks are located in the mall and there may be need to vary when they are refilled.”

Olivierre said the investigation into the El Pecos explosion was not yet completed “because the forensic aspect has not been completed because of ongoing issues at forensics. The full report is still outstanding.” —with reporting by Yvonne Webb

Possible defective installation 

Chief Fire Officer Kenny Gopaul said the latest explosion at the Kleen Rite laundry brought into question whether the premises where LPG tanks were installed were properly certified by the relevant authority which resides with the Ministry of Energy that has oversight under the Petroleum Act.
While the investigation by the fire services is still underway, Gopaul said the initial investigation revealed that “it may have been the result of defective installation, work was done on the installation during the week and it was not properly recertified.” He said business owners needed to ensure that they complied with OSH standards.
Gopaul told the GML Enterprise Desk that the handler on that site was “a hero, he realised something was wrong and he immediately ran into the building and alerted everyone. They were able to run out.” 
But there is another growing problem which the fire services is concerned about. CFO Gopaul told us that the growing number of nuts vendors “with carts with open flames, there is a danger in that, it can explode at any time.” Gopaul said people must realise that the “entire public is put at risk when we violate the laws.” 
Possible defective installation
​Chief Fire Officer Kenny Gopaul said the explosion at the Kleen Rite laundry brought into question whether the premises where LPG tanks were installed were properly certified by the relevant authority which resides with the Ministry of Energy that has oversight under the Petroleum Act.
While the investigation by the fire services is still underway, Gopaul said the initial investigation revealed that “it may have been the result of defective installation. Work was done on the installation during the week and it was not properly recertified.” He said business owners needed to ensure that they complied with OSH standards.
Gopaul told the GML Enterprise Desk that the handler on that site was “a hero, he realised something was wrong and he immediately ran into the building and alerted everyone. They were able to run out.” 
But there is another growing problem which the fire services is concerned about He said with the growing number of nuts vendors with carts with open flames, there was a danger in that they could explode at any time.” Gopaul said: “The entire public is put at risk when we violate the laws.” 

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