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MENAFN - Arab News - 10/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Officials of Saudi municipalities have begun to take note of the danger of having gas plants close to residential areas after the deadly blast in Riyadh last week.

The media have been looking into recommendations by Civil Defense, which had previously been ignored for years.

In Jeddah, residents of Kilo 14 district live a few hundreds meters from a gas plant. They are now worried about their safety, said Okaz newspaper.

Some said the danger of a blast is threatening many districts in eastern Jeddah. Civil Defense reported that the facility's location is a threat to residential areas. They had recommended its relocation years ago, but no action has been taken to date, the newspaper said.

Hassan Al-Shihri, Jeddah resident, said he smelled gas leaking from the plant next to his house. "We are afraid it will catch fire and cause a disaster in the area. The gas tanks are huge and this threatens the area, God forbid," he said.

Salman Al-Sulami, another resident, said he had trouble sleeping when he thought of what could happen if something went wrong at the plant.

"If only a truck could cause that number of casualties, what would a whole gas plant do? I hope officials will consider relocating the plant to a safer area," said Al-Sulami.

Abdullah Jeddawi, Civil Defense director in Jeddah, told Okaz that different departments had showed him the dangers the plant could pose to its adjacent neighborhoods, especially Kilo 14.

"These departments have suggested alternative locations for the gas company. The recommendations also suggested a plan to deal with an emergency," Jeddawi said.

Following a Civil Defense advice, two schools that used to be next to the plant have been relocated to a safer place.

The gas company's branch in Dammam also disturbed nearby residents, but the city's Civil Defense downplayed its danger, according to a report in Al-Sharq newspaper.

Gen. Abdullah Khashman, director of Civil Defense in Dammam, said there is no need for the residents to worry about the gas outlets in some districts or the gas plant in western Dammam.

"All gas outlets are inspected regularly and the safety measures are pretty good. We are fining those who don't adhere to the safety procedures," he said.

He also said that his department regularly checked on the gas plant in western Dammam and that the plant is strictly following safety instructions.


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