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Alagiyawanna’s promised gas explosions report delayed

a year ago

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  • Moratuwa Uni declines to decide based on one report
  • 233 similar incidents from 2015 to Oct. 2021
  • State Minister tables 3 probe reports from April 2021
  • SJB says reports confirm 12.5 kg gas cylinder as having 50:50 butane:propane
BY Pamodi Waravita Co-operative Services, Marketing Development, and Consumer Protection State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna said yesterday (29) that the investigative report on the series of gas cylinder-based explosions would be presented to Parliament within this week, despite earlier pledging to present it to Parliament yesterday. He said that this is because the report was sent to the University of Moratuwa, which has said that a single report cannot lead to a proper decision on the matter. “We took two samples on 26 November and we received one report on 27 November which we sent to the University of Moratuwa. They said that a decision cannot be taken based on one report. Representatives from the Sri Lanka Accreditation Board for Conformity Assessment (SLAB) were in the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation’s (CPC) lab yesterday where 12 gas samples were collected from the Ratnapura, Colombo, Galle, Kalutara, Kurunegala, and Gampaha Districts. We are most likely to get those reports today (29). We will give them to the University of Moratuwa and within this week, we will present to the Parliament the university’s decisions and ideas on the matter, including their most immediate solutions, and medium-term and long-term proposals,” said Alagiyawanna, while speaking in Parliament last morning. Alagiyawanna had said that a report on the recent incidents of reported gas explosions will be presented yesterday in Parliament, following investigations by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). “The gas cylinders which are in the market now have 30% propane and 70% butane, with 5% changes either way. We have directed samples of both Laugfs Gas PLC and Litro Gas to the CPC and to a private company to test the quality of them. I will receive a report on this and I will discuss it with all the relevant institutions first. By Monday (yesterday), I will present a report to Parliament on this.” During this month, several gas cylinder-based explosions have been reported at both industrial commercial establishments as well as at the domestic household level, including two restaurants in Weligama and Colombo 7 and a bakery in Ratnapura. Yesterday alone, three explosions were reported from Arachchikattuwa, Kegalle, and Hatton, respectively. Meanwhile, Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa requested last Saturday (27) in Parliament that Alagiyawanna table the three investigative reports prepared by Intertek Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. in April this year, upon the Consumer Affairs Authority’s (CAA) request. He claimed that the said reports show that the 12.5 kilogramme (kg) gas cylinders in the market have a composition of 50% propane and 50% butane, and not 30% and 70%, respectively. Alagiyawanna said that he tabled the said reports in Parliament yesterday. “We have nothing to hide. We can give any information. We also want to put an end to these incidents. That is our responsibility. From 2015 to 31 October 2021, there have been 233 such incidents involving products from both companies (Litro Gas Lanka Ltd. and Laugfs Gas PLC). I am not trying to justify the current incidents. We must accept that presently, a large number of these incidents are occurring in a short period of time,” said Alagiyawanna. When The Morning contacted Alagiyawanna, he confirmed that these three reports were on the composition of gas in a 12.5 kg gas cylinder. Meanwhile, SJB Parliamentarian Mujibur Rahuman claimed that the Intertek study on the composition of gas in a 12.5 kg gas cylinder, as commissioned by the CAA on 27 April 2021, shows that the composition is 50% butane and 50% propane. “Former Litro Gas Lanka Chairman sent a letter to the CAA Director General on 28 April 2021 where he noted that the gas composition of a 12.5 kg gas cylinder is 20% propane and 80% butane. So they have indicated that this is the standard gas composition. However, the report by Intertek on 27 April 2021 shows that in a 12.5 kg gas cylinder, the composition is 50% butane and 50% propane. I demand that the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) get involved in the matter and arrest these officials,” Rahuman said in Parliament yesterday. Speaking to The Morning last week, current Litro Gas Lanka Chairman Theshara Jayasinghe assured that the composition of gas in the cylinders has not been changed in an unsafe manner. “The composition is 30% propane and 70% butane. We are strictly in compliance with the Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI).” Meanwhile, Laugfs Gas Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chaminda Ediriwickrama told The Morning that there is no relationship between the product composition and the incidents of the recent explosions. Former CAA Executive Director Thushan Gunawardena told The Morning earlier this year that test samples from the 18 litre gas cylinder and 12.5 kg gas cylinder of both Litro Gas Lanka and Laugfs Gas have found that they contain a 50:50 composition of butane and propane. “This is dangerous for domestic use and we are therefore concerned about the safety of the public. The usual composition is 80% butane and 20% propane. We have informed the relevant ministries regarding the matter,” Gunawardena told The Morning at the time. The 18 litre gas cylinder was then removed from market circulation by Litro Gas Lanka. Gunawardena, speaking to the media recently, blamed the gas companies for the recent kitchen-based explosions. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Madhura Withanage claimed in a press conference yesterday that consumers are also largely responsible for gas-based explosions due to their carelessness. “Electrical units are not properly constructed or updated in most places,” claimed Withanage.