The Malta Independent 23 July 2019, Tuesday

Updated (3): Tanker containing 11,000 litres of gas to be emptied after leak in Mellieha

Tuesday, 18 December 2018, 08:21 Last update: about 7 months ago

Civil Protection Department officers have been tackling a constant release of LPG gas for nearly 24 hours in Mellieha, the department said on its Facebook page.

The Malta Independent is informed that the operation could take at least another day.

“Since 10.00am this morning (Monday) the Civil Protection Department has been engaged in an LPG incident in Santa Maria Estate where a Liquigas LPG truck developed a valve fault that led to a constant release of LPG," the department said on Facebook.

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“Various techniques were used to try to decant the load to other bowsers but none were successful. In order to ensure public safety three homes were evacuated, and the decision was taken to flare the contents a safe distance away.

“The senior officers of the Civil Protection Department, including the Director, Deputy Director, Operations Managers, Station Officers and 20 fire fighters took part in this delicate operation that is still ongoing and is expected to take hours to conclude.

“Five fire engines and 90,000 litres of water have been used so far.The Civil Protection Department would like to thank the Malta Police Force, Liquigas, Gasco and private water contractors for their assistance.

“The general public is advised to avoid the area for the time being.

Photos above Alenka Falzon, Photos below Civil Protection Department

When contacted by this newsroom, CPD Director Emanuel Psaila said that every attempt had been made to stop the gas from escaping the valve on the truck, including for instance passing water through the valve in the hope of fixing it, however none were successful.

Psaila said that following discussions between CPD and Liquigas engineers and technical personnel it was decided that the best course of action would be to empty the contents of the tanker through a pipe and burner, and then burn the gas that was inside.  Psaila said that the operation would take time as the tanker was full – carrying 11,000 litres of gas – at the time that the leak was found.

It wasn’t viable, Psaila said, to move the truck from its location as if the leak springs again whilst the truck is in motion, it could cause the vehicle to ignite.  

Asked whether the CPD had been fully prepared for such an incident, Psaila replied in the affirmative, saying that the most important components of the operation were a nucleus of people and a nucleus of water, the latter of which comes, as always, from the private sector.  The CPD director said that almost 20 people were on site in Mellieha, whilst a quantity of people are ensuring that the fire stations across the island remain open and ready to respond to any calls around the islands.

A statement issued by the Department of Information said that the CPD used different techniques to transfer the gas to another bowser but the operations failed.

Until 1pm, some 20 fire-fighters were involved in the operation, using 90,000 litres of water. The police, Liquigas employees, Gasco and private water contractors are involved in the operation.

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