More and more people are getting injured, burnt and a large portion of them eventually dying due to cylinder blasts that have been taking place in the country for the last couple of years. At least 50 were injured and 10 died in last one-year time span. In the last January alone, there was 4 huge cylinder blast incidents that took place in the city.
Cylinders filled with hydrocarbon based natural gas, used in the vehicles, workshops and kitchens are appeared to be some sort of time bombs; gas filled cylinders merely have a difference with regular time bombs, as you can never predict the exact time of the explosion of the cylinder!
So, what’s inside the cylinders actually?? CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) is methane gas extracted from natural gas-and-condensate wells, oil wells, coal bed methane wells and used as a substitute for petrol and diesel in automobiles and LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) is a mixture of propane and butane which is automatically generated from gas fields when natural gas is extracted from the reservoir or found as a by-product of cracking process during crude-oil refining. LPG is used for heating and cooking in homes, refrigeration, industrial, agricultural, catering and automobile fuel.
CNG and LPG cylinders are typically high-pressure gas reservoir that can explode at any time after their estimated lifespan. CNG is a lighter type gas than ambient air that needs to be filled in the cylinders with high pressure while LPG is also pressurized while filled in the cylinders and is heavier than regular air that prone to settling down at the floors when dispersed. A leakage in low quality or expired LPG cylinder can lead to dispersing of the gas at the floor level as it’s heavier than the air, later may occur an explosion if anyone tries to ignite the fire. The thickness of the CNG cylinder usually gets thinner as time passes by which eventually gets unusable after a certain period of time and an expired or defected CNG cylinder may blow out at any time.
In Bangladesh, CNG and LPG cylinders are mostly metallic having a lifespan of roughly 10 to 15 years. These cylinders must be destroyed after their expiry dates. But, in reality, the cylinders are not abandoned or even tested after elapsing the granted period thus, risking it to blow out at any time.
Moreover, the companies that are selling cylindered gas are also issuing the fitness certificate of the cylinders and unfortunately, the government has no rigid policy on the LPG and CNG. The most horrifying fact is that, the state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has a total of 11 thousands of cylinders and 8 thousands of them are out of date! Directorate of the Explosive Detection has recently identified that almost 80% of the cylinders of BPC are unusable after an explosion that took place at a BPC depot in Bogra in last year that completely destroyed 300 cylinders and burnt 3 trucks and luckily no human was injured in that incident.
According to the reported incidents, cylinders are blowing out on a regular basis throughout the country. The frequency of the blast is almost one at least in a month. From the last June, there were at least 5-6 LPG and 2 CNG cylinders explosion incidents that are reported at various dailies. Those explosions cost at least 7 human lives and left 5 burnt and injured severely while the financial loss was above 30 to 35 million BDT.
Experts have urged on setting up a policy by the government to maintain the safety standards in this sector. They are also encouraging the mass people to be cautious while buying and using the cylinders and to conduct regular health check-ups of the cylinders from a certified authority.