Sodas (small eating places) and restaurants in Costa Rica must meet 133 requirements contained in an evaluation tool, and then undergo scrutiny by a specialist, in order to obtain a certification for the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or the premises, or face a possible business closure.

The regulations that became enforceable as of September, are contained in the “Reglamento General para la Regulación del Suministro de Gas Licuado de Petróleo” (General Regulations for the Regulation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Supply) that was enacted last May.

The “Reglamento” imposes norms with the transport, installation and use of LPG, put in place to protect the public –  employees and customers – of sodas and restaurants, according to the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía (Minae) – Ministry of Environment and Energy.

The soda alley of the Mercado Central in San Jose

Businesses must meet the requirements to be able to renew the annual health operating permit and, for this, they must contract the services of certifiers authorized by the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos (CFIA) – Federated College of Engineers and Architects or by the Colegio de Ingenieros Químicos (College of Chemical Engineers).

The Cuerpo de Bomberos  (Fire Department) also has certifiers.

Juan Pablo Arias, an engineer who gives training courses to certifiers at the CFIA, explained that “… the issue is big, because there are strong non-compliances during inspections. The biggest problem is the location of the (gas) cylinders, because they (the businesses) were used to have them inside the premises.”

The article adds that “… The Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) is the one who delivers for the first time, or renews, the operating health permit and is also the one who performs the compliance inspections and can conclude the business.”

The new legislation requires that gas cylinders be outside the premises and never within them. Also, they must be in suitable conditions, that is, in a cement enclosure and with one of the four walls in a non-flammable metallic material.