Panel blames operational errorsOperational errors by officials of Super Gas Udyog and ill-trained firefighters led to the massive explosion at the gas plant at Sukhachaina, Birgunj which claimed the lives of three firefighters last month, a fact-finding committee said in its report. The panel has ruled out technical errors.
Operational errors by officials of Super Gas Udyog and ill-trained firefighters led to the massive explosion at the gas plant at Sukhachaina, Birgunj which claimed the lives of three firefighters last month, a fact-finding committee said in its report. The panel has ruled out technical errors.
The report submitted to the Department of Supplies Management (DoSM) said that the incident took place due to the negligence of the company’s workers when they were unloading the gas. On December 20, a massive fire broke out at Super Gas due to a leakage. It took firefighters almost nine hours to put out the inferno.
The next day, the Ministry of Supplies formed a probe committee led by DoSM Director General Kumar Prasad Dahal and consisting of representatives from the ministry, Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) and Nepal Oil Corporation to investigate the incident.
Dahal said human error more than technical error had caused the disaster. “The workers lack safety knowledge,” he said, adding that the massive explosion was caused after the fire spread to the large number of gas cylinders scattered all over the premises.
The report said that it was a managerial fault. Super Gas had received a shipment of cooking gas in gas bullets from Paradeep Refinery of Indian Oil Corporation on the day before the accident.
The driver of the gas bullet had connected the pipe to unload the gas. The valve of the storage tank had come unfastened at the time. The pressure in the gas bullet caused the highly flammable liquid to leak out and spread around the factory compound, the report said.
As per government rules, gas plants are required to load and unload cooking gas only under the direct supervision of trained personnel. “However the tanker driver had unloaded the gas,” the report said. Although the local administration had cordoned off the area and the fire brigade had reached the site immediately, firefighters failed to handle the situation as they were not trained to deal with such fires, the report added.
“Apart from failing to implement the required safety measures, the bottler had been allowing unauthorized individuals to carry out the operation.”
Following the disaster at Super Gas which revealed gross violation of safety regulations in the industry, the NBSM has made it mandatory for gas plants to obtain Nepal Standards (NS) certification. As per the NBSM, about 90 percent of gas bottlers do not posses NS certification and do no meet the safety standards.
The probe committee has recommended strictly enforcing the NS rule at all gas bottling plants, preventing entry of third parties into gas plants, banning the use of mobile phones at the plants and implementing an emergency preparedness plan.
It has also recommended that dry chemical powder be kept at gas plants and that their technical manpower be trained as per international standards.