Lawmaker: Fatal explosion in Arecibo may have been preventable
Gas lines inspection bill approved in the House still awaits action in Senate
By The Star Staff
Rep. Estrella Martínez Soto, who chairs the Consumer Affairs Committee in the island House of Representatives, said the explosion that occurred Wednesday morning at an establishment in Arecibo where two people died was a tragic situation and called for the approval of legislation that seeks to make homes and businesses safer.
Later on Wednesday the police said the victims had been identified as Blanca Iris Pérez Sotomayor, 49, and Jonathan Sanabria Cardec, 36, both residents of Arecibo.
“My first reaction is to express my sincere condolences to the families,” the legislator said. “Although the fire department is still investigating the origin of the explosion, whether it was due to a gas leak or electrical failure, this brings back into public discussion House Bill (HB) 1114, which has already been approved [in the lower chamber] and is waiting for the Senate to act.”
The measure establishes that in all houses and businesses with liquefied gas service, an inspection of liquefied gas containers and lines must be conducted for the safety of families.
“This measure 1114, called the Law for the Inspection of Liquefied Gas Facilities in Businesses and Residences in Puerto Rico, seeks to improve safety in homes and businesses,” Martínez Soto said. “Last year there were cases in Aguada and Toa Alta, for example. What happened today in Arecibo is an unfortunate example of the reality we are experiencing. My call to the upper chamber is to pass HB 1114.”
The measure would empower the Bureau of Transit and Other Public Services with the authority to regulate and oversee 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 in residences and businesses safer,” said the legislator, adding that although the explosions in residential areas cannot always be attributed to problems with gas hookups or defects in gas cylinders, the reality is that there is no program for the prevention of propane-related accidents or inspection of liquefied gas installations in residential areas.
The police were alerted on Wednesday morning, through the 9-1-1 Emergency System, about an explosion at Willie’s Sport Bar on Avenida Miramar (highway PR-2) in Arecibo.
According to the preliminary investigation, police agents from Arecibo Precinct 107 joined Puerto Rico Firefighters Bureau personnel at the location, where the bodies of two victims were found in the kitchen area.
As of press time, the causes behind the explosion had not been determined. Rafael Heredia Nieves of the Arecibo Explosives Division was continuing the investigation.