Recent kitchen explosions had nothing to do with product composition: Laugfs Gas PLC

By Aazam Ameen 

In the wake of explosions erupting in kitchens across restaurants and homes in various parts of the island, The Morning learns that such explosions had nothing to do with an alleged composition change of the gas ratio contained within cylinders, contrary to several media reports which suggested otherwise.

Speaking to The Morning, Director/Chief Executive Officer LAUGFS Gas PLC Chaminda Ediriwickrama stated that there is no relationship between product composition and the incidents of recent explosions.

“Statements made by certain individuals which detail that these fires erupted because of a composition change are totally false. These fires erupted purely due to negligence and failure to follow proper kitchen safety protocols. The people holding the responsibility of implementing such safety standards should be held responsible,” he said.

When queried on if the product composition was changed, Ediriwickrama denied that such a step was taken.

“Our product composition did not change. We maintain a ratio of 70% butane and 30% propane in each cylinder, with a deviance of around plus or minus 5% percent. The rest of the world uses a ratio of 50% to 50%. However, the formula we use is accepted in this part of the world. Our competitor also uses the same ratio,” Ediriwickrama told The Morning.

Speaking on the explosion which occurred at the Racecourse complex recently, he stated that the gas cylinders were left intact.

“What happened was that the staff were working till 3AM and they forgot to switch off some gas powered appliances. Later on, someone turned a light on and that spark was enough to cause the whole kitchen to burn down,” he stated.

Additionally, Government Analyst Gowri Ramana in a statement issued today (25) noted that a certain media outlet said that the Government Analyst confirmed that the Racecourse incident was due to a gas cylinder exploding due to a change in the Butane to Propane ratio within the cylinder.

Ramana clarified that this media report was false, as she had only mentioned in her report that the explosion occurred due to a spark from a cryo-powered electrical appliance which caused the ignition.

Meanwhile at a media briefing yesterday (24) Litro Gas Lanka Limited, also denied the allegations that the company has released substandard gas cylinders to the market and assured the public that no changes were made to its LP gas composition.

The officials of the country’s largest gas supplier noted that it has been using the same composition for a long time. 

“An independent international lab report is provided before the LPG is loaded onto the ship for import. We also receive a separate lab report once the LPG ship reaches our terminal.” the company said.

During the past month, several explosions were reported at two restaurants in Weligama and Colombo 07 as well as at a bakery in Ratnapura.

The most recent incident was reported at a residence in Kottawa, Pannipitiya. The incident took place early this morning (25), Sri Lanka Police said. No casualties were reported from the incident, despite severe damages to the residence.

On Saturday (20), a restaurant belonging to an international franchise located on the ground floor of the Racecourse building in Colombo was gutted in a fire. Following inspections by the Government Analyst, the root cause of the explosions was revealed to be gas leaks. Although no fatalities were reported, the close timing of these incidents gave rise to concerns among the public.

Against this backdrop, former Executive Director of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Thushan Gunawardena blamed the gas companies for the recent kitchen explosions. He alleged that the incidents were a result of the change in the propane to butane ratio of domestic cylinders.