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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Lawmaker calls for approval of proposed liquefied gas regulation

Rep. Estrella Martínez Soto

By John McPhaul

Given the most recent unfortunate occurrences in Puerto Rico regarding the use of liquefied gas in residences, Rep. Estrella Martínez Soto, who chairs the Consumer Affairs Committee in the island House of Representatives, again called on the Senate to approve House Bill 1114, of her authorship, in order to establish that all homes and businesses in Puerto Rico that have liquefied gas service have a mandatory inspection of liquefied gas containers and lines in order to ensure the safety of families.

“Measure 1114, called the Law for the Inspection of Liquefied Gas Installations in Businesses and Residences of Puerto Rico, has already been approved here in the House and has been waiting in the Senate for two sessions,” Martínez Soto said in a written statement issued Sunday. “It would empower the Bureau of Transportation and Other Public Services with the authority to regulate and supervise the installation, maintenance and use of liquefied gas in residences and businesses in Puerto Rico. In the same way, it seeks to establish a structure that makes the use of liquefied gas tanks safer in residences and businesses.”

The local press has already reported on several cases of explosions in residential and commercial areas as a result of the mishandling of liquefied gas.

Recently, there was an incident in Barrio Lomas García in Naranjito.

Although they cannot be attributed to problems in the installations or defects in gas cylinders, the reality is that there is no accident prevention program or inspection of liquefied gas facilities in residential areas.

“Yesterday, Saturday, there was another incident where three people were burned after a gas stove exploded at a residence in the Jagüey Chiquito neighborhood in Aguada,” the lawmaker noted in the measure. “Given the increase in the use and stored quantity of this product, it is meritorious to create processes that tend to the safety of residents and their neighbors, [thereby] preventing losses of life and property from occurring again due to the mishandling of this product.”

The proposed law seeks to amend Regulation 7160 to add annual certification and inspection requirements for liquefied gas facilities and impose more rigorous ones for the use of tanks of 400 pounds or more in residential areas. The measures are necessary to minimize the risk of incidents affecting property safety and people’s lives, the lawmaker said.

“Prior to approval here in the House, we held public hearings with all stakeholders and sought broad citizen, commercial and industrial participation,” Martínez Soto, who represents House District 27 (Aibonito, Coamo, Juana Díaz, Santa Isabel and Salinas). “The priority is the safety of our people. The case registered yesterday in Aguada and last month is another example of the importance of fellow legislators in the Senate dealing with the case as soon as possible.”

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