|A petrol station on Tôn Thât Thuyết Street in District 4. HCM City is strengthening measures to ensure safe operations at petrol stations and gas shops. — VNS Photo Ngọc Diệp
HCM CITY — HCM City authorities are strengthening control over the trade of oil and petroleum products to ensure safety at petrol stations and gas shops that sell flammable substances.
Trade, storage and use of flammable substances such as petrol, gas, oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) pose a high risk of explosion.
Local agencies’ inspections and handling of violations in oil and gas trading have been lax, creating a high risk of fire at many locations. Numerous incidents, for example, have occurred at petrol stations.
A fire destroyed six gas pumps at Petrol Station 102 on Phan Văn Hớn Street in District 12 on October 1 last year, causing a loss of billions of Vietnamese đồng.
Earlier, five gas pumps, one tank truck and tens of motorbikes were destroyed by fire at Petrol Station 72 on Quang Trung Street in Gò Vấp District.
Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper has reported that violations have occurred at many petrol stations in districts 3, 5, 8, 10, 11 Bình Thạnh and Bình Chánh.
Employees at the petrol stations are still selling gas to customers while tank trucks nearby are pumping gas into fuel tanks at the station.
This violation occurs frequently at many petrol stations, but employees are not warned about the danger of fire.
At some stations, wash and repair services for vehicles are located next to gas pumps while customers wait to wash vehicles, employees and others smoke cigarettes near the gas pumps.
Representatives of petrol stations said they regularly reminded employees of the danger but that they continued to smoke.
Many gas shops violate regulations that require thick walls, exit doors and safe distances for fire-generating equipment, as well as a minimum area for shops.
Some gas shops have installed electric outlets and regularly cook with gas stoves near a storage area with many gas cylinders.
Col Huỳnh Văn Quyến, deputy head of Bình Chánh District’s Police, said that it was highly dangerous for customers to pump gas while tank trucks are putting gas into storage cellars at petrol stations.
During the pumping process, gas vapours fill the air. This can lead to a fire sparked by customers, employees and others who smoke, do not turn off heat sources, or use cell phones, ignoring fire risks.
“If a fire occurred, it would be difficult to contain the fire immediately because they sell gas to customers," he said.
The city’s rescue police said they had improved their regular inspections and monitoring, and were strictly handling any violators.
“With these violations, it is difficult for agencies to control because they cannot always physically be at the petrol stations or gas shops 24 hours a day,” Quyến said.
The city’s People’s Committee has asked oil and gas businesses to work with local fire prevention police and refrain from pumping oil and gas into fuel tanks from tank trucks. But few of them have complied with the request.
A representative of the city’s Fire Prevention, Fighting and Rescue Police Department said the department had been working with district police to inspect and punish violators of fire-fighting prevention and control regulations at petrol stations in the city.
“We will co-ordinate with concerned agencies to suspend the operation of the petrol stations if they are intentionally violating regulations,” he said.
The department also said police officers in all districts should regularly organise classes on fire prevention and fighting to raise fire-safety awareness among gas station and gas shop owners, traders and staff.
Traders also must install projector screens and information about fire-safety regulations at their stations and shops. — VNS