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Gas leak hits over 100 in Cuddalore

March 9 2011

Times of India

CUDDALORE: More than 100 persons complained of irritation in the eyes, nausea and vomiting after a gas leak from a chemical unit in SIPCOT industrial estate in Cuddalore district on Monday night. Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) additional chief environmental engineer S Balaji told TOI that fire broke out at the stores where chemical bromine and hydrochloric acid were stocked in the industrial unit of Shasun Pharmaceuticals Ltd, leading to poisonous fumes emanating from the unit on Monday night. Scores of residents of nearby hamlets, Kudikadu and Eechangadu, complained of irritation in their eyes, nausea and vomiting and were admitted to the Cuddalore government general hospital.

A few of them swooned and required 108 ambulance service to rush them to the hospital, an eyewitness said and added that the management failed to adhere to the safety norms in storing poisonous chemicals on their premises.

"The management had stored 40 cases of bromine in the store room along with hydrochloric acid. A case contains four 750ml bottles. A fire broke out leading to the gas leak from the factory. We are sprinkling lime in the region to nullify the effect of the poisonous chemical," Balaji said.

As a precautionary measure, the government sealed the factory invoking sections 25 and 26 of the Water Act. Balaji said the government had also directed the management to remove all the chemicals stocked in the store room. "The staff members are removing the chemicals from the store room under our direct supervision in order to prevent any further untoward incident," he said. Police said 109 persons were affected due to the gas leak and all of them were treated as in-patients. Cuddalore District Consumer Protection Organisation general secretary Nizamudeen warned that inhaling bromine would cause serious damage to health, affecting the lungs, kidney and brain in the long run.

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