Old CNG buses withdrawn after recent explosion

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Old CNG buses withdrawn after recent explosion

The government said yesterday it will withdraw from service 539 buses that are powered by compressed natural gas after one of them exploded last month in Seoul.

There are more than 24,000 CNG buses in service, but the withdrawal order affects those that were manufactured more than nine years ago.

The CNG buses are now described by some as “moving road bombs” after one exploded on Aug. 9, injuring 17 passengers and pedestrians.

The government previously allowed CNG buses to operate for up to 11 years on the condition of regular inspections. But the Prime Minister’s Office decided to tighten the rule as the bus involved in the explosion had a CNG tank manufactured in Italy in 2000.

The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs will take a full responsibility for monitoring the safety of the CNG buses and it will order all bus companies to install automatic emergency valves and gas leak censors to prevent another accident.

The Korea Gas Corporation will check on the condition of buses, including the manufacturing date of CNG tanks. It will crack down on bus companies that illegally modify CNG gas buses without complying to the government regulations.

“The Prime Minister’s Office will use 15 billion won to implement the comprehensive plans before Chuseok,” said Yook Dong-han, a senior official at the prime minister’s office.

To minimize the financial burden on bus company owners, the government will offer 18.5 million won in subsidies for the purchase of new buses to replace the older models.

CNG buses were introduced in 2002 as part of an environmental push initiated by the Ministry of Environment. More than 24,000 CNG buses and cleaning vehicles now operate nationwide.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]


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