Epra disowns Embakasi gas plant after deadly blast

The aftermath of a huge gas blast in Embakasi Nairobi last night.

The aftermath of a huge gas blast in Embakasi Nairobi on February 2, 2024. PHOTO | WILFRED NYANGARESI | NMG

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) has come out to absolve itself from blame on the Embakasi gas explosion that resulted in the deaths of at least three people and injuries of 280 others.

In a statement, the authority said it received three applications last year for permission to build a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage and filling facility at the site.

All three applications were rejected because they did not meet the stipulated safety distances in the area.

The first application was received on March 19, the second on June 20 and the third on July 31, 2023.

“The main reason for the rejection was (the) failure of the designs to meet the safety distances stipulated in the Kenya Standard,” said Epra.

According to the authority, one of the reasons for rejecting the application was the high population density around the area where the company had proposed to locate its storage facility.

In addition, the applicant was asked to provide a qualitative risk assessment that clearly shows the radiation blast profiles in the unfortunate event of an explosion, which was not provided.

“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,” added Epra.

The authority said the rejection letter was sent to the applicant, raising the question of who slept on the job that allowed company to continue illegally operating in a residential area.

“As the regulator, we have formulated short and medium-term measures to ensure (the) 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),” said Epra.

Three deaths have so far been confirmed through the office of the government spokesperson Dr Isaac Mwaura.

At least 280 people are currently admitted to various hospitals in the city.

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has also announced that his administration has waived all medical fees for patients receiving treatment for injuries at county hospitals.

Police said one person manning the illegal facility had been arrested.

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