The gas filling station in Embakasi, Nairobi where an explosion occurred on Thursday night was operating illegally, the Energy Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) has confirmed.
EPRA, in a statement released on Friday, February 2, said that it had previously rejected all applications for construction permits for a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage and filling plant at Mradi area in Embakasi, Nairobi County.
The authority said that it rejected the applications for several reasons, among them the high population density in the area. EPRA received the applications on March 19, 2023, June 20, 2023, and July 31, 2023.
The applications were, however, rejected on grounds that they did not meet the set criteria for an LPG storage and filling plant in that area.
EPRA noted that the main reason for the rejection was failure of the designs to meet the safety distances stipulated in the Kenya Standard.
“The blast profiles are simulated by use of computer software and indicate the effect of a typical blast in terms of heat radiation and tremor/vibration and are useful in reviewing the safety of the surrounding areas,” said EPRA.
EPRA also argued that at the time of the application, the applicant had been requested to submit a Qualitative Risk Assessment (QRA).
The QRA was to indicate the radiation blast profiles in the unfortunate case of an explosion, given the high population density around the proposed site.
The applicant never provided the requested QRA resulting in the rejection of the applications.
“As the regulator, we have formulated short and medium-term measures to ensure safety of all LPG plants in the country is guaranteed.
“This is through actions such as undertaking detailed technical audits of all licensed LPG plants in the country with the objective of ensuring high safety integrity status in terms of Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE),” EPRA said in the statement.
EPRA further noted that administrative actions are always taken to ensure that operating licenses for all plants rated below the high safety integrity status are revoked.
“In addition, surveillance and enforcement actions are taken including demolishing illegal plants operating across the country and curbing malpractice in the sector,” it said.
Three people have since been confirmed dead with nearly 300 others sustaining injuries following the explosion.