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Muddle over domestic gas tank

Two authorities have taken conflicting positions over a large gas tank installed to heat a house in Attard.

Neighbours had raised the alarm, fearing the worst, but the Malta Resources Authority insists the "small-sized storage tank" does not pose any threat as long as things are done according to a code of practice.

The regulator pointed out that there were 27 similar registered storage tanks, seven for domestic use, three industrial tanks and 17 for commercial use.

However, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority has issued an enforcement notice on the tank in question, asking for it to be removed or for permission for its construction to be sought.

This is because the owner of the gas tank had originally applied to build a reservoir in his front garden and used the space for a gas tank.

The owner of the tank is arguing that Mepa's enforcement notice is illegal because he has all his papers in order and the necessary approval and certification of the MRA.

The man, who preferred not to be identified, said the container in question was as big as an average water tank. He placed it underground in his front garden on the recommendation of the MRA. The tank is refilled by a bowser, also with the authority's permission.

He said the tank supplied gas to a boiler that heated up water, which then ran through radiators in his house.

"I did everything as I should... My house requires one normal gas cylinder a day to heat it up, so this is the best and greenest solution. Alternatively, I can buy 25 gas cylinders at a time but, one could argue, that too could be of danger. At least, this way, everything is done properly and I have all the necessary certificates," he insisted.

He added he did not need a Mepa permit because the tank was not a structure. However, even if he did need a permit, he could still sanction it, meaning he could apply for a permit even after he installed it.

There are still no approved government policies for such residential gas tanks. Guidelines have been drafted but have yet to be officially approved by Parliament. They stipulate that gas tanks of over 150 kilogrammes can be installed but have to be regularly maintained.

Civil Protection Department director Patrick Murgo said that, under the guidelines, unless the tank itself ruined the aesthetics of a building, the container would not even need Mepa approval.

Mepa said that when an application of this kind was submitted, it consulted the CPD, the MRA and the Occupational Health and Safety Authority.

"All these inputs would then be taken into consideration in our final recommendation."

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