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New gas safety rules

A woman refills fuel bottles at her petrol stall in Phnom Penh
A woman refills fuel bottles at her petrol stall in Phnom Penh yesterday. The government has stated that small petrol vendors will be inspected for operational safety. Hong Menea

New gas safety rules

As part of a new safety initiative, the Ministry of Mines and Energy will require all petrol station owners to present a certificate acknowledging that their businesses follow risk-prevention protocols.

The directive came in response to a series of petrol fires and explosions that damaged property and claimed lives, according to Dit Tina, secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

“It is for their own safety and the safety of the people dwelling around [fuel stations]… because gasoline and petrol is highly flammable,” he said yesterday following a workshop on the technical management of safety procedures at the Cambodia-Korea Cooperation Center.

According to the announcement from the ministry, large fuel stations that handle more than 200 litres of petrol will be be required to show proof of proper equipment, including electrical, ventilation and oil-flow systems, and the presence of fire extinguishers.

Tina noted that accidents occur because businesses neglect legal regulations or find loopholes surrounding the management of oil and gas.

Lim Seyhak, from Krobey Sar gas station in Pursat province, said he welcomed the inspections: “I think it is good, and we have to follow it.”

Smaller vendors that operate out of homes or along roadsides – selling volumes less than 200 litres – will receive an inspection from the ministry to assess potential risks. Vendors could be required to build a protective wall to divide the petrol from the rest of their shop structure. Tina added that the ministry may choose to close businesses found to be operating at “high risk”.

Chhean Veasna, 37, who sells about 30 litres of petrol each day from a storefront outside of her home alongside bottled water and Smart mobile cards, said she is especially careful about safety and keeps a fire extinguisher nearby.

“If I have any problem, it will not only impact my whole family, but also my neighbours, too,” she said, adding that as a small-business owner it would be impossible for her to afford a safety wall.

“We hope the ministry will understand and not close our business,” she said.

Gas stations built before November 25 will have to apply for certification from the ministry within six months, and will be given until 2019 to implement the safety arrangements.

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