LPG-refilled butane canisters may cause explosion and fire, DOE warns

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 March) ­– The local office of the Department of Energy (DOE) warned retail stores here to stop selling and refilling liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in empty butane canisters as these are highly flammable which might cause explosion and fire.

The warning was issued after three major fire incidents broke out this month in Davao City that were reportedly caused by illegal use of these LPG-refilled canisters.

Engr. Nilo J. Geroche, chief of DOE 11’s Supervising Research Division, speaking during Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw, said these empty butane canisters are not intended to be refilled, most especially with LPG because these might explode if used excessively.

“These are dangerous because they don’t have the pressure relief bulbs. When excessively used, it might explode and cause fire,” he said.

The first incident in the city this month happened last March 8 in Purok 13-B Kasilak Riverside, Barangay 76-A Bucana. Another fire hit at St. John Village, still in Bucana, just two days after. The third incident was in Piapi, Boulevard on March 21 that gutted hundreds of houses.

Geroche said the selling of these canisters has proliferated in the market, as the consumers continue to patronize the products which are sold cheaper as compared to LPG tanks and even butane itself.

The energy official urged the consumers not to buy and to report outlets selling LPG-filled butane canisters for their safety, as he emphasized that the government could not fully stop the selling of these hazardous canisters. Only consumers, he stressed, can stop the selling if they refuse to buy.

He said they have been receiving reports of retail establishments selling re-used butane canisters, many of them coming from the Calinan, Toril, Panacan, and Ecoland areas.

DOE-Davao’s supervising research specialist (SRS) Edmar A. Derla added the agency warned three plants in Tagum City that were illegally refilling butane canisters with LPG last year yet the city reportedly approved their applications for business permit renewals for 2016.

DOE-Davao’s SRS II Jodelle A. Osorio said Presidential Decree (PD) 1965 penalizes the “certain prohibited acts inimical to the public interests and national security involving petroleum and/ or petroleum products.”

He added under Sec. 4, violators will be fined P10,000 to P50,000, and/or imprisonment of two years to five years.

DOE circular 2014-01-0001 also provides the rules and regulations governing the LPG industry.

Section 4 states that “no person shall engage in any industry activity without a valid Standards Compliance Certificate.”

“The DOE, through the Oil Industry Management Bureau (OIMB), shall issue a SCC. The OIMB shall have the authority to verify, validate, authenticate and inspect all documents and information and information required,” it stated.

The same warning was also issued to sellers of petroleum products placed in 1-liter soft drink bottles after the agency received complaints from the gasoline companies that they are losing revenue.

Derla suspected that there are local suppliers who illegally get their source from ships docking in the region or from a defunct mining company in Surigao province.

“They still have the oil allocation which they may sell out to the retailers,” he said.