Attempt to seal leakage caused Kumasi gas explosion - Preliminary investigations say

BY: Mabel Aku Baneseh, ACCRA & Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor
 The fuel station totally burnt after the gas explosion. BELOW: The Ghana National Fire Service fire engine at the scene of explosion
The fuel station totally burnt after the gas explosion. BELOW: The Ghana National Fire Service fire engine at the scene of explosion

Preliminary investigations into the gas explosion in Kumasi have revealed that the incident occurred when an attendant attempted to seal a leakage while brisk business was ongoing.

Ten people got injured in the process, while about 30 commercial and private vehicles were burnt in the explosion which lasted about one hour.

Three of the injured, who are said to be in critical condition, are receiving attention at the Emergency Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), while three others are on admission at the Tafo Government Hospital in Kumasi.

The remaining four have since been treated and discharged.

Ghana National Fire Service

Timely intervention by personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) helped in reducing the effect of the explosion.

According to Divisional Officer II, Mr Francis Darko-Kono, the service received a distress call about the incident at 7.49 a.m.

He said a first fire engine was dispatched from KATH to the scene, two from the regional office of the service at Chirapatre, while a fourth engine was detailed from the Manhyia Fire Station to contain the situation.

“Within 10 to 15 minutes we were able to bring the fire under control and completely put out the fire within an hour,” he said.

Residents

Some of the residents blamed the incident on the location of the gas station, which they said was too close to a residential and commercial area.

They were of the view that the gas station should be relocated to forestall.

the recurrence of such an incident.

According to them, they had complained in the past but all their complaints had fallen on deaf ears.

Cause

According to the Chief Executive of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Mr Alhassan Tampuli, “the attendant was attempting to seal off a leakage on the bullet containing the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) at a time the LPG was being discharged to customers”.

“All this while, some gas had escaped, causing alarmed residents to rush to the site to complain about the strong smell,” Mr Tampuli said in an interview in Accra yesterday.

The explosion is said to have occurred not long after residents had complained about the pungent smell.

Describing yesterday’s incident as unfortunate and regrettable, Mr Tampuli said it should not have occurred in the first place.

“We wish to express our heartfelt sympathies to the injured persons and wish them speedy recovery. We shall put out the full findings when investigations are completed,” he said.

Cylinder Recirculation Model

“This unfortunate incident reinforces the NPA’s ongoing education for the public to embrace the cylinder recirculation model, which offers a better alternative in terms of public safety.

“This new policy will help curb the numerous gas explosions in the country, solve the stress consumers go through in refilling plants, as well as create more jobs,” Mr Tampuli said.

Policy

Under the CRM, LPG outlets will no longer be allowed to refill cylinders at their plants.

This is part of a comprehensive national policy aimed at halting gas explosions at gas filling outlets.

Under the policy, all cylinders will be filled by cylinder bottling plants for onward delivery to retail outlets.

What this means is that individuals, restaurants and organisations that use LPG cylinders will now go to LPG retail outlets with their empty cylinders, pick up filled ones and pay for them upfront.

The new method can be likened to the way some bottled drinks, such as Coca Cola, are sold in Ghana.

This policy is being run successfully in Colombia, Peru, Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco and many countries across the globe.

Gas explosions

Ghana has witnessed many gas explosions in recent times, resulting in hundreds losing their lives, while more than 500 people have been injured.

The most recent ones occurred in Takoradi in the Western Region on May 9, 2017 and at the La Trade Fair area in Accra on December 22, 2016.

Takoradi explosion

More than 100 people, including firemen, got injured in the Takoradi gas explosion.

According to eyewitnesses and officials of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), the explosion occurred when a gas tanker was discharging gas close to a Total Fuel Station on the Sekondi-Takoradi road.

Thirteen people died in the gas explosion at the La Trade Fair area in December 2016.

 The cases which were recorded between 2014 and 2017 included the Kwame Nkrumah Circle explosion on June 3, 2015.

Six of the explosions were recorded in the Greater Accra Region, one in Takoradi in the Western Region and one at Kasoa in the Central Region.

The most recent gas explosion occurred on Saturday, October 7, 2017 at  the Atomic Junction near Madina, Accra.

Two of the cases occurred in 2014, two in 2015, one in 2016 and three in 2017.

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