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Gas leak in Cuddalore factory: 120 fall sick

9 March 2011

ExpressBuzz News

CUDDALORE: More than 120 people, including women and children, were hospitalised following a Bromine gas leakage from a chemical factory at SIPCOT Industrial Estate here late on Monday night.

Residents of Kudikadu, Eechangadu and Nochikadu villages developed vomiting, irritation in eyes, skin and some even fainted as Bromine gas stored in the premises of the Shasun Chemicals and Drugs limited factory leaked after 9 pm. According to witnesses, people poured into the roads and started running in panic. Collector P Seetharaman, accompanied by officials and top police officials rushed to the area.

Those affected were then rushed to the nearby Cuddalore Government Hospital. Three buses were pressed into service to shift them to the hospital.

As a precautionary measure, the Collector decided to evacuate nearly 1,500 people in the villages to marriage halls and schools away from the factory. He also spoke to them using a public address system. A medical camp was also set up under Dr Kamalakannan, joint director of the health services.

Meanwhile, tension prevailed in the area and local people stoned the security office of the company and resorted to a road block at midnight. The traffic on the Cuddalore-Chidambaram Road was disrupted for a brief period, but the collector and the police pacified the crowd. Nearly 56 people were still undergoing treatment at the GH on Tuesday while 70 were discharged. More than 30 persons approached the hospital for treatment on Tuesday morning also.

Collector Seetharaman, who visited the factory along with the Superintendent of Police, told Express that Bromine kept in containers leaked as it was stored for a long time and it got mixed with the humid atmosphere.

He said that fire brigade personnel were pressed into service and they neutralised the gas using carbonated water. The fire fighters were then asked to remain in the premises. The Collector ordered the factory officials to remove the bromine gas from the premises. However, sources said none of the factory workers were affected as they used masks inside the factory. The Collector, who said that the situation in the area is normal, directed the Divisional Engineer of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to inquire into the incident.

The TNPCB officials visited the factory on Tuesday to assess the situation.

VICTIM: I FELT GIDDINESS, ITCHING Most of the people exposed to the Bromine gas leak on Monday, felt irritation in the eyes and all over the body. N Mani, a native of Kudikadu, who was recuperating at the GH, said he felt severe itching all over the body and in the eyes around 9.30 pm. I could not breath properly also. But I did not know what was happening. I rushed out, Mani, a daily wager, recalled. Govindaraj, a driver, was admitted to the GH only onTuesday morning after feeling giddiness and nausea. Seventeen women were also admitted to the GH with similar symptoms.Meanwhile, health minister M R K Pannerselvam, who represents Kurinjipadi constituency and MLA G Iyyappan visited the GH

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