• Bulacan bans fireworks’ lethal chemical

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    THE Province of Bulacan, through the Provincial Pyrotechnics Regulatory Board (PPRB), has proposed to ban the use of potassium chlorate, an unstable chemical that has a tendency to self-ignite when mixed with other chemicals or when it gets wet.

    Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said the banning of potassium chlorate in the firecracker production will make the local fireworks and pyrotechnics industry more

    safe and at par with international standards.

    The proposal stemmed from a consultative meeting with stakeholders and national government officials to ensure that no more deadly accidents like a recent explosion that rocked fireworks stalls in Mexico, killing at least 29 people.

    “Because Bulacan is the fireworks capital of the country, we are analyzing the cause of accidents and to make sure that they won’t happen again. We will instruct the provincial police to make rigid inspection of factories and stores and strictly implement all the provisions of Republic Act 7183. At the same time, we are asking the stakeholders to police their ranks,” Alvarado said.

    He added that emergency responders together with firefighters and ambulances with paramedics will now be deployed 24/7 along areas where fireworks and pyrotechnics products are being sold in anticipation of the rush of revelers expected to flock Bocaue, Santa Maria and Baliwag towns.

    The governor said the provincial government will help local manufacturers in proper packaging, which according the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association Inc. (PPMDAI) officials is among the safety procedures in the sale of fireworks.

    PPMDAI chairman emeritus Celso Cruz said most of the fatal accidents were caused by improper storage of unstable chemical ingredients.

    He added that 90 percent of local manufacturers in the country are still using potassium chlorate, which is long banned in other countries.

    The PPMDAI chairman said there are at least five local dealers of the chemical ingredient in Bulacan, including the owner of the fireworks store that exploded, killing two people last October in Bocaue town.

    It was found that the blast was triggered when the chemical got wet and self-ignited.

    “This unstable ingredient has the tendency to self-ignite when mixed with other chemicals or when it gets wet,” Cruiz said, adding that potassium chlorate, locally known as “kolarato,” is the main ingredient in high explosives like dynamite and is preferred by local manufacturers because of the loud bang it produces.

    During the meeting, Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Ricojudge Echeverri challenged Alvarado and members of PPMDAI to reduce the number of casualties or firecracker incidents to 50 percent this year from the Health department’s record last year or President Rodrigo Duterte will implement a total ban on pyrotechnics in 2017.

    Meanwhile, Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil, House Committee on Public Order and Safety chairman who also attended the meeting, wondered why police officers, particularly the Philippine National Police-Civil Security Group, are allowing the sale of potassium chlorate and other highly unstable chemicals.

    He said all stores must ensure that they are stocking the allowable volume of fireworks as mandated by law.

    Bataoil added that fireworks and pyrotechnic products in Bulacan should have their own “safety standard mark” so that buyers will know that they are quality fireworks and safe to use.

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