Liquefied Petroleum Gas Distribution

1.0       Introduction

Liquefied Petroleum Gas is one of the main sources of energy in most homes in Britain. Particularly, the gas is used for cooking either in domestic homes or in institutions such as schools. The distribution of LPG is different from that of natural gas in that the latter is piped into the homes of the consumers (UNEP, 1998, pp 35). LPG gas is more prominent in the country due to the unavailability of natural gas. The cylinders that are used at the homes require occasional refilling and replacement when they wear out. Due to the high risks that are involved in handling the LPG commodity, the government has in place stringent measures to ensure that the employees, general public and the neighboring community are safe (Tweeddale, 2003, pp 48). The UKPLG governs the operations involving LPG through Codes of Practice that are published and revised occasionally. The owners of installations that deal with the LPG are required to maintain high standards and regular checks are done to ensure compliance (Kunreuther & Ley, 1982, pp 29). Special regulations are applied on installations that surpass 25 tones of the gas due to the higher risk that is involved.

2.0       Challenges and mechanisms for Safety Improvement

2.1       Fire and Explosions

The main potential risk of liquefied petroleum gas is fire and explosion. In particular, the LPG installations particularly the ones that harbor filling stations are prone to such eruptions. In addition, the LPG is prone to the explosions during the transportation either in the vehicles or in the train (Hirschler, 1992, pp 67). These types of explosions can be very hazardous because they may cause injuries in large scale. These risks can however be prevented by using special cylinders that can withstand pressure and temperature increment.

2.2       Leakages

Another potential safety challenge is the possibility of leaks either during refilling or in the process of distributing the LPG. The installations in the filling stations are prone to the normal process of wear and tear and can lead to gas leakage therefore causing poisoning. Although rare, the possibility of such occurrences is high due to the nature of the gas used in LPG (Chaturvedi, 2005, pp 97 Moreover, the process of packaging requires that the workers be very keen to avoid instances of leakages. It is common for the gas cylinders to be damaged from the mechanical loading into the lorries for transport. This can be occasioned by the many times that the cylinders might fall thereby accelerating the rate of wear and tear. Such possibilities call for strict measures to ensure that the risk is minimized. For instance, the cylinders should be serviced often times to ensure that the quality is not compromised. In addition, the piping and the tanks should be checked regularly to identify possible leakage points and avert such instances.

2.3       Trafficking and Smuggling

The trafficking and smuggling of stolen cylinders is a potential safety challenge as it predisposes both the workers and the consumers to the danger of explosions. The stolen cylinders are then refilled by decanting the gas from a large cylinder and into the small ones. The malpractice is dangerous in that it occurs without the set safety procedures (Williams & Lom, 1982, pp 60). It therefore means that the safety of the people involved is not guaranteed and they may end up being hurt or burnt. All gas cylinders should be labeled with the company’s name to ensure that consumers are able to identify the source of any gas cylinders in the market. In addition, the consumers should be educated on the need to buy LPG from trusted suppliers to dissuade smugglers from selling the LPG to unsuspecting consumers at lower prices thereby endangering their lives.

2.4       Accidents

There is the possibility of accidents during the process of distribution causing damage to the staff transporting the LPG. Moreover, the outcome of accidents is a threat to the general public as fires are bound to erupt in such instances (Gazda et al., 1985, pp 132). The collisions and the high impact of the accidents may lead to the leakage of the gas therefore poisoning the workers in the vehicle. Supposing the vehicles engine continues to run, there is a high likelihood of an explosion and fire from the gas’ contact with the engine. In addition, LPG may travel and settle in neighboring houses where it may cause explosions. However, statistics show that the possibility of accidents in Britain involving trucks carrying LPG is very rare. Nevertheless, safety measures should be put in place to guarantee the well being of the people involved. For instance, the people delivering the gas should be accorded the necessary PPEs to cushion them from inhaling the gas in case of leaks (Great Britain, 2006, pp 164).

2.5       Poor packaging

The LPG should be transported in well ventilated trucks and away from the passenger compartments to reduce the risk of people coming into contact with the gas. Leakages are bound to occur and the prevention of such leakages is of paramount importance in the distribution process. LPG gas despite not being poisonous may result in asphyxiation when inhaled in high quantities. There is a risk of health complications associated with the inhalation of the gas and this poses a great risk to the distributors and the people working in the refilling stations. The workers should thus be given gas masks to ensure that no inhalation of the gas occurs during transportation and packaging.


2.6       Illegal installations

There is also a safety risk associated with the fact that there may exist illegal installations that sell poor quality LPG to the consumers. The biggest safety challenge involving such installations is the possibility that the operators may not be compliant to the rules set by the regulatory authority. The cylinders used in these installations may also be poorly maintained because the operators are after maximizing the profits thus exposing the people to more health risks (Duffield, 2015, pp 98). In fact, most of the illegal installations are set up because the operators cannot meet the set standards and they therefore opt to run illegal installations (Duffield, 2015, pp 129). The government should identify and prosecute operators of illegal installations to cushion the general public from the safety risks associated with such installation.

3.0       Conclusion

The effectiveness of LPG in Britain is not in doubt especially in domestic homes. The distribution chain of the LPG is however faced with numerous risks that threaten the health of both the workers and the consumers. Therefore, stringent safety measures should be put in place to protect the health of the various stakeholders. The danger of explosion is particularly singled out due to the high flammability of the gas. It remains to be seen whether the government improves the legislation to curb illegal traders that endanger the lives of unsuspecting consumers. Nevertheless, with the implementation of the safety standards suggested and those in place, LPG remains a better option in servicing the energy needs of a majority of the citizens.



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