Kenya: EPRA Says Embakasi LPG Storage Plant at Gas Explosion Site Illegally Erected

Nairobi — The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) says the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage and filling plant in Mradi area where there was a gas explosion that killed three people was illegal.

In a statement, EPRA explained that they received applications for construction permits on 19th March, 20th June, and 31st July 2023 which they declined as they failed to meet the criteria for setting a gas plant station.

The gas refilling plant which exploded and even injured 280 others failed to meet the safety distances stipulated due to the high population of its environs.

“EPRA noted the high population density around the proposed site and the applicant was requested to submit a Qualitative Risk Assessment clearly indicating the radiation blast profiles in the unfortunate case of an explosion like the one that happened yesterday,” EPRA said.

The regulator further maintained that the management of the LPG storage never provided a Qualitative Risk Assessment which helps indicate the effect of a typical blast and offers a review of the safety of the surrounding areas.

Questions are being raised on how the gas filling plant managed to operate illegally for six months.

“The applicant never provided the requested QRA resulting in the rejection of the applications. Email correspondences providing reasons for the rejection were sent to the applicant,” noted EPRA.

EPRA has assured it will undertake detailed technical audits of all licensed LPG plants in the country to ensure high safety integrity status in terms of Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE).

“Administrative actions are always taken to ensure that operating licenses for all plants rated below the high safety integrity status are revoked.”

“Surveillance and enforcement actions are taken including demolishing illegal plants operating across the country and curbing malpractice in the sector,” the regulator noted.

At least three people died and several were injured in Thursday night’s explosion in Embakasi near the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Authorities say the huge explosion felt miles away occurred in Mradi area sending shock waves and panic in the city.

According to Government Spokesman Isaac Mwaura, a truck filled with gas cylinders exploded at around 11 pm igniting a huge fireball that spread to godowns and a residential area nearby.

More than 200 people were injured and rushed to various hospitals across the city.

“Consequently, the inferno further damaged several vehicles and commercial properties, including many small and medium-sized businesses,” he said, confirming the deaths and injuries of more than 200 people.

“I heard a loud explosion and suddenly a gas cylinder hit my door and ripped it open and that is when we escaped,” said Vincent Onchoke, I was sleeping and we all escaped even my family which I traced this (Friday) morning.”

“I have never heard such a loud explosion,” said Emily Mwangi who lives nearby, “it shook buildings.”

The loud explosion was felt more than 10 kilometers away.

“I heard the explosion only to see huge flames and fireballs in Embakasi,” said Enock Korir, a resident of Umoja estate.

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