Gas Canisters Endanger Public Safety, Environmental Protection Ministry Warns

Zafrir Rinat
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Cooking gas canisters.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Zafrir Rinat

Inspection and enforcement of the placement and maintenance of cooking gas canisters is deficient and endangers public safety, the Environmental Protection Ministry said Sunday. The ministry has formulated a bill that it is submitting to the cabinet to deal with the problem.

As the body responsible for the handling of dangerous substances, the ministry conducted a survey of the cooking gas market, and concluded that supervision over gas canisters and the tanks of central gas installations in apartment buildings is woefully inadequate and suffers from a chronic lack of manpower.

There is also a serious lack of information about the location of gas tanks, which makes it difficult to enforce safety regulations, and there is almost no enforcement against thieves who steal canisters and pipes, the ministry said.

In June 2011, four people were killed and 90 were injured in a gas explosion that destroyed a building in Netanya, from which gas piping had been stolen by metal thieves.

The ministry also concluded that there is an imbalance in the makeup of standards committees here that gives an advantage to the gas manufacturers and suppliers over consumers.

At a recent discussion of gas installation safety initiated by the Union of Local Authorities in Israel, it emerged that there are 40,000 to 50,000 central gas tanks in Israel, but local authorities have no accurate information about their location.

This information could be crucial in an emergency, which could include the firing of rockets into urban areas, the mayors noted. A senior official at one of the large gas companies said that it would be impossible to compile a new list of all the older gas tanks that are installed in buildings, but that the focus should be on making sure they were properly maintained. 

Legislation for increasing regulation of the cooking gas market that was proposed following the report was stymied by United Torah Judaism MK Yaakov Litzman in January of 2015, and it failed to be passed before the last Knesset dispersed.

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