The explosion and fire that occurred at the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) dispensing station at the Atomic Junction on the night of October 7th, 2017, is another reminder that the Government and the regulators it appoints need to produce a permanent solution to this issue. There have been eight reported gas explosions within the last 3 years. These are eight occurrences too many.
The fact that several of these LPG dispensing stations are sited in close proximity to markets, chop-bars, shops, lorry stations, and residential areas causing residents to complain, means we have a major problem with adherence to our zoning laws. It also means that we should have the strictest of safety standards, and regulate the siting or existence of these dispensing stations, and most importantly, the discharge of gas from tankers into the site storage tanks. It is critical that the industry players adhere to strict safety rules, comply with standard operating procedures, and have both a perfect maintenance culture and adequately trained staff. There must be periodic, routine and unannounced stress testing and drills including evacuation procedures. Clearly, this training must go beyond the staff to others living or operating in close proximity to these dispensing stations.
We must have and enforce rules that treat the tankers that carry the gas for dispensing almost as ‘weaponised trucks’ that must obtain and maintain special permits and pressure gauges that will indicate if there are any leakages at any time during the transport and discharge.
Until these measures are tried, tested, and put in place, OccupyGhana® would recommend the banning of all on-site dispensing of gas. We side with the decision of the National Petroleum Authority to regulate the downstream gas distribution by phasing out refilling of LPG gas at LPG dispensing stations. Thus, instead of having LPG dispensing outlets, all gas cylinders will be filled by cylinder bottling plants for onward distribution to retail outlets.
We know that LPG distributors have met this decision with fierce resistance. However, in the interest of the health and safety of service providers, consumers and the general public, we urge the regulators to put these measures in place and enforce the zonal laws for the siting of fuel and LPG gas stations.
In the meantime, we urge all the regulators- the NPA, EPA, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, the GNFS, the Ghana Standards Authority- to ensure that strict safety rules are enforced at filling stations especially during discharge.
Yours in the service of God and Country,