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Fire in SIPCOT unit, none injured

05 July 2014

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
The Hindu

A fire that broke out in a chemical unit in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate here caused panic among residents in the surrounding villages on Thursday.

However, no one in the unit, Pandian Chemicals Ltd, was injured. According to sources the fluidised bed dryer, equipment used for drying the chemical products, caught fire in the afternoon.

Three fire tenders that arrived at the scene doused the flames within an hour. Some of the fire tenders kept at the Chidambaram temple for the Ani Thirumanjanam festivities too were diverted to the industrial estate. It was premised that the fire could have either been triggered by power surge or high atmospheric temperature. District Environmental Engineer of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board A. Raja said that the fire was localised in an apparatus in the unit.

Short circuit

The blaze could have been resulted from a short circuit. But the real cause would be known only after examining the apparatus. S. Pugazhendi, a resident of the area, said thick smoke that rose from the unit caused irritation in the eyes and breathing problem among the villagers. M. Nizamudeen and Arul of the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring, said that the company was engaged in the manufacture of ammonium perchlorate, a highly explosive chemical substance meant to be used as solid fuel in rockets.

The environmentalist further noted that this was the third accident in the industrial estate within a month. It indicated lapses on the safety front and also on the part of the enforcement agencies.

Only periodic and uncompromising inspections of the chemical units in the industrial estate would ensure the safety of the units, employees as well as villagers.

Equipment used for drying chemical products caught fire

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