Methane caused blast

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE –METHANE gas is very likely the cause of the explosion at Glorietta 2, National Capital Region Police Office 2 chief Director Geary L. Barias said yesterday.

“The effect of the explosion is characteristic of a gas explosion possibly that of methane with ignition temperature of 999 degrees Fahrenheit-coming from human waste,” Barias told reporters.

Methane is an organic chemical compound and principal component of natural gas. It is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas at room temperature. It is flammable only over a narrow range of concentrations, about 5 to 15 percent in air.

The NCRPO chief based his statement on findings that the malls’ fire protection pump and the sewer pumping system bogged down during the 2nd quarter of the year and were rehabilitated.

“A week before the incident, there was a tripping of breaker which resulted to the flooding of the basement including the sewer piping system that eventually caused the flooding in the basement of water contaminated by human waste,” Barias said, citing a statement from Glorietta 2 engineer Marcelo Botanes.

He said that Superintendent Fennimore V. Jaudian, the chief of the Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Task Force of the Department of Interior and Local Government, had attested that waste coming from the septic tank in the basement was ‘knee-deep.’ Jaudian inspected the site and found at least 1,000 liters of diesel at the tank, giving enough space for gas to accumulate.

Barias said that a day before the explosion, Glorietta 2 contractor Romeo Uy repaired one of the machines that pumps out human waste to the city’s sewer system. He installed a portable submersible pump as temporary replacement for the malfunctioning pumping system.

The NCRPO chief said methane is the most possible source of explosion since the gas can be produced from decaying organic wastes such as manure, wastewater sludge, municipal solid waste including landfills or any other biodegradable feedstock.

“But although we’re not completely ruling out sabotage, terrorism, or a bomb, all probability shows the explosion was caused by an accident,” he said.

Barias maintained that no explosive parts or other components were found at the site despite days of searching. He said that no crater was found in the area by the investigators, a clear proof that the blast was not caused by a bomb.

He said maintenance crew admitted there was ventilation at the mall’s basement was poor.

“Prior to that event, the system was not working properly and scientific study shows that methane could be accumulated without proper ventilation. We’re just looking at the probable source of the ignition as it looks very logical that it was a gas explosion. We’re very sure that waste, when not treated properly, will produce methane,” he said.