Change in butane-to-propane composition confirmed as cause of gas explosions

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COLOMBO – The expert committee appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to investigate the recent space gas-related explosions, confirmed to Tuesday (21) that a change in the composition of butane-to-propane in the liquid petroleum gas (LPG) sold in the domestic market was the main culprit behind the explosions.

Chairman of the committee, Professor Shantha Walpalage, briefing the media on the committee’s finding on Tuesday, said investigations and tests on the samples of gas from accident sites had confirmed the main cause to be a change to the composition of the gas.

The committee was appointed by the President on November 30 to look into the incidents of LPG fires that occurred at domestic, commercial, and sales outlets in various parts of the country and find possible causes in order to provide immediate solutions.

The final report of the committee was handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by Prof. Walpalage, on Monday (20).

Prof. Walpalage said the committee had prepared the report taking into account investigations carried out in 11 institutions including on-site inspections and inquiries conducted on two major LPG gas companies, Litro and Laughs Gas, an inspection of 17 places where fires and explosions had occurred, and considering the views received by e-mails.

He said though there were number of components linked to the domestic gas cylinder, including the stove, regulator and tube, no changes were observed in the components during the investigations that could be linked to the explosions during the months of November and December.

However, he said it was clear there was a change in the composition in the gas contained in the cylinder, noting that while the chances of a gas cylinder exploding were very limited, the change in composition inside the cylinder caused components linked to the cylinder to explode.

Prof. Walpalage also noted that while some regulators and other components were below standard, the main cause for the explosions was however determined to be the composition of the gas in the cylinders.

Interestingly enough, Litro Gas Limited Chairman Theshara Jayasinghe has maintained there was no change in the composition of Litro Gas, though the former Executive Director at the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA), Thushan Gunawardena, red-flagged his concerns about the change in butane-to-propane gas composition in some domestic gas cylinders, warning the change could pose a serious threat to consumers.

-ENCL

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